Mar 292007

I was catching up with one of my oldest friends, Sandy, today on the phone and we got to talking about seeing The Pogues in Detroit back in 1995. How they had reformed, were touring again, and whether it was the full old band or the new one… I’ve already missed them here, I know. I guess Cait O’Riordan is the only one who isn’t in this recent reformation of The Pogues, although everyone else is supposedly in… (and what IS Cait doing now anyway? “She left the Radiators and was replaced in February 2006 by Jesse Booth, and went on to form a band of divorcées named Prenup with Hothouse Flowers guitarist Fiachna ó Braonáin. They are currently recording their debut album for release in 2007.” – Wickipedia)

Anyway, we started talking about the ’95 show because we actually had the pleasure of meeting Shane and his girlfriend at the time, Victoria Clarke (“the girl with green eyes”) in the old restaurant/bar/dive next door. Saint Andrew’s Hall (St. Andy’s) is a three-level venue still located on Congress Street in Detroit, Michigan. They have smaller shows in The Shelter (the lower level) and bigger shows on the main floor (St. Andrew’s Hall), which has a balcony, and there was the upper level – The Burns Room, which was mostly used for the touring bands’ green room, but I’d also DJ’d up there several times in the 90s for a night that a friend started called “GO Sound”. It’s one of the main venues to play in Detroit.

When I say meeting Shane was a pleasure, Sandy and I were talking about how he should absolutely be dead by now, with all of his wanton lifestyle choices taken into consideration. Even that night, I remember he was on stage and looked like he was going to fall over during their set (white as a sheet, pale as a ghost) and even had to leave the stage at one point for more alcohol and medication, I’m guessing.

Apparently he had a toothache that was just killing him and he was on tons of meds for it. Also the fellow’s been announced nearly dead so many times in the press, it wouldn’t have been half surprising seeing him fall off the stage right then and there! For this show in particular, we were able to meet Shane beforehand (my friend Kevin was interviewing him for his print ‘zine, called Scataphobia at the time), and I remember he was lying with his head in his arms, on a table near the front of the bar (literally snoozing half-asleep/half-awake and in a puddle of his own drool), barely coherent and mumbling, and looking like death itself. A pint still clutched in his hand, and his girlfriend clucking over him like a mother hen while Kevin attempted to get a few “usable” quotes out of him.

Earlier in the afternoon, Kevin had also gotten some quotes and talked to members of the band touring with The Pogues. It was The Waltons (Lik My Tractor, was their big album, and Jason Plumb from the band actually ended up going solo finally years later when I booked him in a local venue in town). The Waltons were a weird mix to be touring with The Pogues. They were a Canadian indie band, with an alt-country kind of twist similar to that of Blue Rodeo or The Skydiggers of that time. Kev’s first question to The Waltons was to find out what they thought of touring with The Pogues – How was it going for everyone? And The Walton’s automatic answer was of course to slam Shane – “Oh, it’s a regular nightmare, he’s late all the time for soundcheck, always drinking…” blah-de-blah-de-blah…

So Kevin, not even thinking that it was Victoria Clarke who was going to introduce him to Shane starts going on about how The Waltons are bad-talking touring with The Pogues, not really having the best time, etc. Next thing you know, Sandy recounts “Don’t you remember?!! …,”

“We were standing in line and The Waltons were loading their gear OUT of the front of St. Andrew’s Hall because they had been KICKED OFF THE TOUR!”

Amazing. So much for first impressions! It was confirmed a few days later that Kevin had indeed gotten The Waltons kicked off of the tour because of his off-the-cuff “anecdotal” remarks to Victoria. Ah, The Press! Did anyone see The Pogues show here recently?


  10 Responses to “The Death Rattle, Shane MacGowan, and The Waltons”

  1. Mr. Moderator

    A-Dogg, isn’t Saint Andrew’s Hall where we opened for our good friends The Generals?

  2. … and went on to form a band of divorcées named Prenup …

    I refuse to believe that that is the first band ever composed entirely of divorcees. Sounds like a desperate “publicity” stunt.

    P.S.: The Death Rattle is the most awesome band name I’ve heard in a long time.

  3. P.S.: The Death Rattle is the most awesome band name I’ve heard in a long time.

    Someone better steal that fast!! I didn’t even think about it;) Good call!

    Mr. Mod – are you telling me Nixon’s Head played there? What did you think??:) I have a lot of great memories there!!

  4. Mr. Moderator

    The hall was very cool. It looked like a big, hallowed out church, right? I remember hte balcony. When we arrived we have visions of an MC5 experience, complete with Andy starting off a song, “And right now (right now)…right now, it’s time to…!”

    As it was, about 12 people turned out for the show in that huge room. Backstage, a hardcore band called The Generals buddied up to us, wanting to know if we wanted to crash at their place after the show, warning us that it was in a bad neighborhood (which they described bassed around unflattering, offensive descriptions of the racial makeup around them) – “But it’s all right, we’ve got Doberman Pinchers!” Then they started talking about how they were skinheads, “but the good kind!” or something like that. Needless to say, after the show, we thanked them for their offer of hospitality and decided, instead, to drive all night to Cincinnatti for the next night’s show. I think I got most of the details right.

    Oh, my other memory of the place and the show was a good-looking woman coming up to one band member’s side of the stage and swaying suggestively while gazing into his eyes. Suddenly, this guy was playing with the fire of a man actually kicking out the jams with the MC5. Someone was feeling it…until a few songs later the woman’s boyfriend came up behind her and put his arms around her through the end of the set.


  5. P.S.: The Death Rattle is the most awesome band name I’ve heard in a long time.

    Consider it stolen. It’s the name for my RTH fantasy band.

    Ya snooze, ya lose…

  6. My god, I want to say that I totally remember seeing listings for your band in Detroit papers, but I don’t know if my memory is just making things up. I did ticket promo work for them for a long time (close to eight years) as well through my radio station – the friend who started Go Sound was in the local band (now defunct) Fletcher Pratt. St. Andrew’s actually IS an old church that an agency called Ritual used to run (my friend Diana was head booker) and eventually it was bought out by Clearchannel like everything else. It’s a really cool venue though with lots of history. Actually Detroit and Windsor both have huge skinhead factions, and a scooterist club as well. Some of them are the bad kind and some of them are the good kind (bad meaning Nazi/racist skins – good meaning non-racist/nazi obv.)… hard to tell, and there’s kind of a messed up rockabilly faction too. There’s a huge hardcore/rockabilly scene in Detroit. At least there was. I know the area you were in, and it’s a bad area definitely (they’ve been working on getting more stores opened in the past few years – but a lot has just been abandoned so it’s hard to tell), but not because of the people who live there necessarily – mostly because of the people who end up there looking for trouble. You just have to be careful and note to bands: ALWAYS LOAD IN YOUR GEAR AND WATCH IT EVEN WHEN IT’S IN THE VENUE. Last year I went to see a friend’s band play at the CPop Gallery off Rosa Parks and there are tonnes of burnt out buildings and shootings around there. I got stuck in Detroit because the buses weren’t running back to Windsor by the time the show finished and I ended up spending the whole evening reading a book and seeing a waitress brawl/semi-almost-shoot-em-up at a local Greek Town restaurant. (Two girls in a serious fight threatening to pull out knives – “My momma doesn’t even call me a bitch, she thinks she’s gonna call me a bitch. Wait until I get off shift.”) Awesome. Not! Scariest night of my solo show seeing life! Local hoods actually showed up to protect the manager with their guns because a drunk had been banned from the restaurant and threatened to come back with his friends. I should have totally just asked to stay with my friend Matt in Hamtramck. I ended up leaving the restaurant at 6am for the first bus back to Pontiac and then Flint. It was a long ride home.

  7. Yes, St Andrews was the place. This would have been March 1988. And I think they were going on about “short hairs” vs “long hairs”

    And, yes, this when we decided to drive straight through to “the Natti” and crashed at an old college-band chum John Curley’s house. Had he started to play bass with the Afghan Wigs yet?

  8. Mr. Moderator

    Yes, short hairs vs long hairs!

    Fletcher Pratt was good band, Sally. I remember them.

  9. Fletcher Pratt was good band, Sally. I remember them.

    Do you have their last album, Nine X Nine (on Rainbow Quartz)? It’s a good one! They are split up into several bands now (none of them as great-shhh…), with George in one and Chris in another, but Brendan I have lost track of… Afghan Whigs are one of those bands that played one million times in Detroit…! And Greg Dulli is Canadian too. The Twilight Singers now, right?

  10. Mr. Moderator

    I don’t have a full album by them, just a handful of tracks from mix CDs made by friends.

    I had no idea Dulli was Canadian. Do you want him back?:)

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