Pubs & Pogues

A couple of years ago (back when G worked for a British company and I rode his coattails as often as I could when he went there for meetings) we wandered into a pub on a little side street in London.  As a non-British non-drinker, I was always fascinated by the whole pub experience (do I choose where I sit?  do I walk over to the bar and shout my soda order? is someone going to yell at me? and what about the crowd of people lingering outside?  do I just walk up and make conversation? are they already in groups of friends?)  

As you can tell, I overthink things.

This time it was irresistible.  It was the night of the European Football Playoffs  and there was a jolly chaos inside that we couldn't ignore.  So we went in, joined in the happy cheering and jeering, suddenly die-hard English football fans by virtue of pub-adoption. I grinned through the whole jubilant exuberant night and left feeling like I had jumped, Mary-Poppins-and-Burt-style, into another world.  Minus the penguin waiters.

* * *

Last Friday G and I had tickets to the Pogues concert at The House of Blues.  Let's see...Irish folk/punk band in Boston?  In a concert hall with five bars along the interior perimeter?  Think that'll be lively?

I'm pretty sure we were the only sober ones there.
I'm pretty sure lead singer Shane MacGowan was the least sober one there.
I'm pretty sure 85% of the attendees were singing along with the band at the top of their lungs.

It brought back memories of that merry pub experience (multiplied by 10). There aren't any seats at the House of Blues concert venue, which makes for a lot of dancing and interactions. Lots of grown tough burly Irish American men dancing jigs, complete with locking elbows and spinning.  Pretty much like this:


For instance: At one point I was walking on the way back from the loo and a guy put his finger on top of my head. I looked at him quizzically and he and his girlfriend said "spin! spin!" so I did and they all cheered.  (Apparently I was the first who did. I kind of felt like "Norm!" at Cheers).  It was amazing fun.   We laughed a lot--at the dancers, at the manic mood of the whole audience, at the enthusiasm.

And at the same time, a bit of sadness on the underside of the evening.  Looking at addiction's ravages in Shane MacGowan (he looks decades older than his age) you wonder why the extreme lows and destructiveness have to so frequently accompany the joyousness.

{In fact, the Boston Globe called the show "a blended blur of life's emotional extremes: joy, laughter, tears, and sorrow. Beating at the music's clamoring heart were the Pogues, who ultimately left us wondering whether there ever was a band so perfectly, equally suited to playing either a wedding or a wake." }