The Pogues 2009 East Coast tour

My other favorite band of all time, The Pogues, just finished their Spring 2009 East Coast tour through Miami, Atlanta, Washington DC, New York City, and Boston.  I was fortunate to be able to shoot them four times–Atlanta at The Tabernacle, Washington DC at the 9:30 Club, and twice in Boston at the House of Blues.

New pictures added on 3/22/09; scroll down for additional thumbnails, click to be linked to Flickr.

Shane MacGowan | The Pogues

Shane MacGowan | The Pogues

So first, the thing everyone wonders about every time The Pogues play anywhere: yes Shane was there; and yes he was drinking on stage, and YES, he sounded fine. GREAT even. He sounded so good and sang so clearly that I asked the guy next to me if he thought maybe he had finally gotten his teeth fixed. But I really knew he hadn’t, having seen him fairly close when I was shooting.  And look at him!  He’s 51 now I think, and he’s got the skin of a little boy.  Yeah everyone gets on his case about his chosen lifestyle but something in there works for him.  He looks a hundred times better than he did 10 years ago even.  Anyway that guy is going to live to 90 at least, no matter what he does that would kill someone else.



Shane MacGowan, James Fearnley, Darryl Hunt, Andrew Ranken, Spider Stacy



James Fearnley, Shane MacGowan, Spider Stacy, Darryl Hunt, Jem Finer

Shane seemed pretty happy to be there, as did everyone, and the audience sounded like they really enjoyed themselves. For the first time ever I went up into the balcony afterward (big mistake, actually; I much prefer staying on the floor but it was extremely crowded and I had “Pogues virgins” with me who probably would not have lasted down there): and even up there, people were jumping up and down dancing. During the encore the entire upper floor was swaying from all the stomping.


Shane MacGowan | The Pogues

Shane MacGowan

The whole band sounded great. Guitarist Phil Chevron, who is still recovering from throat cancer, sounded especially wonderful during Thousands Are Sailing, a song he wrote and which Shane had at one time long ago sung but which has now reverted back to Mr. C. He got a huge cheer after being introduced by Spider as, if I recall correctly, “Give a hand to Mr. Philip Fucking Chevron!” And I’d imagine that most people there knew his situation, as he got a huge round of applause.

Philip gave the audience a laugh when he said they had been told they last played in Atlanta in 1989 but nobody in the band had a clear memory of it, which meant that the gig was either really really good or really really bad.


Philip Chevron | The Pogues

Philip Chevron

Spider & Darryl and I think that’s the top of Terry Woods’s head. I do have some actual photos of him that will be up in the next batch.  I wished I had my camera especially during Sally MacLennane, as it seemed to me that the lighting over Spider during the really difficult (to me) whistle parts was especially beautiful. But this was the first show in probably years where I did not bring my P&S to take pictures once I was out of the pit and back in the audience. Thought I’d like to experience one with no distractions, especially since I’m seeing this band four more times on this tour. But now that it’s over, I wish I had brought it.


Darryl Hunt & Spider Stacy | The Pogues

Darry Hunt & Spider Stacy

James framed by speakers.
The setup they use has speakers across a large part of the front of the stage, which makes getting a lot of good angles kind of hard, esp. since I could barely see over the stage, but it also allows some interesting framing. I also tried to get one of Shane through the grill of the fan he always has placed right in front of him but it didn’t work out.


James Fearnley & Spider Stacy | The Pogues

Andrew Ranken, James Fearnley, and Spider Stacy



Darryl Hunt

New images added here as they are processed–click to be taken to Flickr page, click on All Sizes for large version.  Photographs taken at House of Blues were by permission of HOB Entertainment, Inc.

Shane MacGowan, James Fearnley, Darryl Hunt | The Pogues

The Pogues

The Pogues

James Fearnley | The Pogues

Terry Woods & Shane MacGowan | The Pogues

Jem Finer | The Pogues

Spider Stacy | The Pogues

Terry Woods | The Pogues

Philip Chevron | The Pogues

Set list for Atlanta; it pretty much stayed the same for every show, maybe a slight change here or there. They played Metropolis both nights in DC for instance.
Streams of Whiskey
If I Should Fall From Grace With God
Broad Majestic Shannon
Turkish Song of the Damned
A Pair of Brown Eyes
Repeal Of The Licensing Laws
Cotton Fields
Greenland Whale Fisheries
Tuesday Morning
The Sunnyside of the Street
Body Of An American
Lullaby Of London
Thousands are Sailing
Dirty Old Town
Bottle Of Smoke
Sickbed Of Cuchalainn
Sally MacLennane
Rainy Night in Soho
Irish Rover
Poor Paddy

Technical notes

The Tabernacle, Atlanta: I am not short but that stage was HIGH. I should have worn some boots with higher heels. It was fairly hard to get any shots without a lot of speakers in the way, and I had to keep the camera pointing up more than usual. Pretty decent lighting though; the only time it was really dark was at the very beginning. I used two lenses for this, the Tokina 11-16mm and my Nikon 24-70mm. Almost tried putting on the 70-200 but I really didn’t need it and the pit was pretty shallow so there was no way to move back at all. One slight problem: while changing lenses, I dropped the Tokina. It was there and then it was gone. I looked on the floor and saw it and just about had a heart attack because I could see how far it must have fallen. It incredibly was not broken but the focus ring had shifted from AF to manual, only I didn’t notice that until after, so all the pictures I took of support act Dan Sartain with that lens are just a big blur. I didn’t notice while I was shooting him. But at least that glass didn’t break; I’ve only had the lens for a few months.

The 9:30 Club, Washington DC: Better lighting than at The Tabernacle and the stage is much lower and easier to shoot to. This was my favorite of the three venues from a photography standpoint. (From an audience-viewing perspective, the new House of Blues in Boston is quite incredible, well worth the money–not a bad sightline in the entire house). Kept settings pretty much at ISO 1600, 1/100, f2.8.

House of Blues, Boston: I shot both show nights here; after leaving my settings at the same that I used for the 9:30 Club I could see that I should have upped the ISO a little bit. It was darker here and the stage was higher (not quite as high as Atlanta though) and so the second night I turned it up from 1600 to 2000. I probably could have gone a tad higher, really. I brought two bodies both nights and tried using my 85mm f1.8 on my backup body (Nikon D40) but only got one decent shot out of it: that lens doesn’t autofocus on a D40 and I just can’t seem to get the hang of it when it’s dark and there are only milliseconds to do it in. During controlled settings when shooting non-moving objects or portraits it’s great; but it’s hard for me to get good results at concerts. I really wish I had bought a D80 as my first DSLR instead of the D40, because then all Nikon lenses would AF on it. Oh well live and learn.

I was supposed to shoot one night at Roseland in NYC also but had a last-minute conflict and wasn’t able to get down there. And in a surprise that I didn’t think I heard correctly at first, they dedicated a song to me on St. Patty’s Day–Thousands Are Sailing–and I cried the whole time they were playing it.

The Pogues still have dates coming up in New York at the Roseland; in DC at the 9:30 Club, and at the brand-new House of Blues in Boston.  Go!  If you go in in a bad mood, you can’t leave with one.  It’s just not possible. [N.B. This paragraph was written before they finished the tour so those shows mentioned have already taken place.]

The Pogues on MySpace
Dan Sartain on MySpace