The Pogues | Axis | July 2, 1986
Anyone who’d seen the Pogues in London was already aware of the boozy, sharp-edged mayhem this bunch could create with tin whistles, mandolins, accordions, and the like, not to mention the, ah, tipsy mannerisms of ever-swilling singer-songwriter Shane MacGowan. But for most, this, the band’s first Boston gig, was a revelation. Expectations had been building ever since word of a punkish Irish band fronted by the hard-drinking MacGowan started filtering into local pubs. So Axis was a mass of sweating, drinking, Guinness-tossing celebrants as the Irish and punk communities seemed to fuse into one entity — the very same that would give birth to Dropkick Murphys a decade later. The surly, yet poetic MacGowan was at the top of his shambolic form, spitting out anthems like “Transmetropolitan” — “I’m gonna kick up bloody murder in the town we know so well” — and “The Boys from County Hell,” where MacGowan offered the come-on “Lend me ten pounds and I’ll buy you a drink.” Those songs summed up much of the intent. But the showstopper played near the end was the Pogues’ roughshod-but-reverent version of Eric Bogle’s “And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda” — a powerful anti-war song sung from the point of view of a legless vet from “a forgotten war.”
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