Faber £14.99

Here Comes Everybody: The Story of The Pogues, By James Fearnley

The beat of the Irish diaspora, via King's Cross

Famously, Spike Milligan wrote I, his comic novel of small-town Ireland, before visiting the island. Likewise, the Pogues (first formed in 1982 as Pogue Mahone, Gaelic for "kiss my arse"), came to represent the place, despite including several Englishmen.

The diaspora travels both ways, of course. More Irishmen joined the band, as well as a manager determined to see the lads crack his homeland. In an era when sons of Erin lorded it over the Brits, at least on the field of entertainment, they went from rowdy pub-fillers to arena attraction.

Living in short-life housing around King's Cross, they had an ultra-urban take on Irish folk music that filled a void no one even knew existed. James Fearnley, who became their accordionist, picked up the soubriquet "Maestro" on account of his ability to tune the band's instruments.

The frontman Shane MacGowan – dyspraxic, unhygienic (a description of his pee-on-a-tree technique is, er, sobering), so world-weary that he refused to credit the existence of goodness – was key. His songs touched an audience that expected nothing. Yet banjoist Jem Finer, the son of a university lecturer, drove the band forward, as determined as MacGowan was detached.

The Pogues' singularity was recognised by their inspirations. Dylan invited them to tour, and they collaborated with the Dubliners, whose Ronnie Drew broke a vow never to spend the night in Ulster when the RUC took him in for drink-driving. (He awoke complaining about the terrible accommodation.)

It wasn't all such larks. Intelligent adults, some of them family men, the Pogues compared touring life to the U-boat movie Das Boot. The gay guitarist Philip Chevron fixated on whomever he was rooming with. Shane simply sank for good. Although the classic line-up is still alive, the old road-crew are not. The original band lasted less than a decade, yet even that seems miraculous. As for that Christmas song, the producer Steve Lillywhite sorted out the structure and suggested his then wife Kirsty MacColl as a vocal foil.

Here Comes Everybody is a great tale, but be warned: Fearnley's thesaurus must have caught fire as he gathered his memories. You'll find no bald drunks here: such types are inactive of follicle, pellucidly inebriate. This can prove wearing, but one must surely forgive a man – to paraphrase Dorothy Parker – who once played the accordion and now does not.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Madame Vastra and Jenny Flint kiss in Doctor Who episode 'Deep Breath'

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Steve Carell in the poster for new film 'Foxcatcher'
filmExclusive: First look at comic actor in first major serious role
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Kingston Road in Stockton is being filmed for the second series of Benefits Street
arts + entsFilming for Channel 4 has begun despite local complaints
Arts and Entertainment
Led Zeppelin

music
Arts and Entertainment
Radio presenter Scott Mills will be hitting the Strictly Come Dancing ballroom
TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and Clara have their first real heart to heart since he regenerated in 'Deep Breath'
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Beyonce performs in front of a Feminist sign at the MTV VMAs 2014

music
Arts and Entertainment
Miley Cyrus has taken home the prize for Video of the Year at the MTV Video Music Awards 2014

music
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Paige and Scott Lowell in Queer as Folk (Season 5)
tvA batch of shows that 'wouldn't get past a US network' could give tofu sales an unexpected lift
Arts and Entertainment
books... but seller will be hoping for more
Arts and Entertainment
John Kearns winner of the Foster's Edinburgh Comedy Award with last years winners: Bridget Christie and Frank Skinner
comedyJohn Kearns becomes the first Free Fringe act to win the top prize
Arts and Entertainment
Professor Sue Vice
booksAcademic says we should not disregard books because they unexpectedly change genre
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie Muscato performs as Michael Crawford in Stars in Their Eyes

TV
Arts and Entertainment
‘Game of Thrones’

TV
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
Miley Cyrus brought her Bangerz tour to London's O2 Arena last night

music
Arts and Entertainment
Loaded weapon: drugs have surprise side effects for Scarlett Johansson in Luc Besson’s ‘Lucy’
film
Arts and Entertainment
Novelist Martin Amis at The Times Cheltenham Literature Festival

books
Arts and Entertainment
Alfred Molina, left, and John Lithgow in a scene from 'Love Is Strange'

After giving gay film R-rating despite no sex or violence

film
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Kate Bush, Hammersmith Apollo music review: A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it

    Kate Bush shows a voice untroubled by time

    A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it
    Robot sheepdog technology could be used to save people from burning buildings

    The science of herding is cracked

    Mathematical model would allow robots to be programmed to control crowds and save people from burning buildings
    Tyrant: Is the world ready for a Middle Eastern 'Dallas'?

    This tyrant doesn’t rule

    It’s billed as a Middle Eastern ‘Dallas’, so why does Fox’s new drama have a white British star?
    Rachael Lander interview: From strung out to playing strings

    From strung out to playing strings

    Award-winning cellist Rachael Lander’s career was almost destroyed by the alcohol she drank to fight stage fright. Now she’s playing with Elbow and Ellie Goulding
    The science of saturated fat: A big fat surprise about nutrition?

    A big fat surprise about nutrition?

    The science linking saturated fats to heart disease and other health issues has never been sound. Nina Teicholz looks at how governments started advising incorrectly on diets
    Emmys 2014 review: Can they genuinely compete with the Oscars

    Can they genuinely compete with the Oscars?

    The recent Emmy Awards are certainly glamorous, but they can't beat their movie cousins
    On the road to nowhere: A Routemaster trip to remember

    On the road to nowhere

    A Routemaster trip to remember
    Hotel India: Mumbai's Taj Mahal Palace leaves its darker days behind

    Hotel India

    Mumbai's Taj Mahal Palace leaves its darker days behind
    10 best pencil cases

    Back to school: 10 best pencil cases

    Whether it’s their first day at school, uni or a new project, treat the student in your life to some smart stationery
    Arsenal vs Besiktas Champions League qualifier: Gunners know battle with Turks is a season-defining fixture

    Arsenal know battle with Besiktas is a season-defining fixture

    Arsene Wenger admits his below-strength side will have to improve on last week’s show to pass tough test
    Pete Jenson: Athletic Bilbao’s locals-only transfer policy shows success does not need to be bought

    Pete Jenson: A Different League

    Athletic Bilbao’s locals-only transfer policy shows success does not need to be bought
    This guitar riff has been voted greatest of all time

    The Greatest Guitar Riff of all time

    Whole Lotta Votes from Radio 2 listeners
    Britain’s superstar ballerina

    Britain’s superstar ballerina

    Alicia Markova danced... every night of the week and twice on Saturdays
    Berlin's Furrie invasion

    Berlin's Furrie invasion

    2000 fans attended Eurofeurence
    ‘It was a tidal wave of terror’

    ‘It was a tidal wave of terror’

    Driven to the edge by postpartum psychosis