Pete Doherty/Shane MacGowan, The Boogaloo, London

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The Independent Culture

Being a Pete Doherty fan is a full-time job. As soon as one secret gig finishes, another is announced, and even scouring the internet and signing up to the fan site is no guarantee that you will hear about every show in time to get tickets. But the fans help one another out, and, no matter what the press or Michael Howard thinks of Doherty, he enjoys the friendliest fan-base of any current musician, with an unusually diverse age-range. What keeps everyone coming back is the knowledge that no two shows are the same and that occasionally you are going to get something really special.

Being a Pete Doherty fan is a full-time job. As soon as one secret gig finishes, another is announced, and even scouring the internet and signing up to the fan site is no guarantee that you will hear about every show in time to get tickets. But the fans help one another out, and, no matter what the press or Michael Howard thinks of Doherty, he enjoys the friendliest fan-base of any current musician, with an unusually diverse age-range. What keeps everyone coming back is the knowledge that no two shows are the same and that occasionally you are going to get something really special.

The Boogaloo has already established itself as an extraordinary venue, and everyone in the audience for this St Patrick's Day celebration knew the show would be memorable. Before the special guests joined him, Doherty arrived on stage backed not by Babyshambles, but by Alan Waff, of the band Lefthand, and a new female drummer. It took the band a moment to gel, but as usual, the chaos suited Doherty. "Come on, you lot - help me out," he urged during his opening set, before launching into a fantastically tremulous version of "What Katy Did", a song that he reinvents every time he plays it.

Great though the opening set was, the audience could see Shane MacGowan making his way to the stage, stopping at the Boogaloo en route to his own gig at Shepherds Bush. It was impossible not to be knocked out by the emotion of MacGowan's performance, especially in such an intimate venue, and the room was silent as he started with Hank Williams's "Lost Highway", before playing the Pogues classics "Pair of Brown Eyes" and "Dirty Old Town" and a cover of Sam Cooke's "Cupid" that felt appropriately funny on this spring night. MacGowan and Doherty worked surprisingly well together, their voices complementing each other perfectly.

Before leaving the stage, MacGowan introduced the next performer, a man named The Rabbi. A much-loved individual among Libertines fans, The Rabbi is a Zelig-like figure whose extraordinarily complicated CV includes appearing with Michael Caine in a Muppets movie. His version of "Teenage Kicks" was regularly played in Filthy McNasty's, the London bar-cum-literary-salon where Doherty once worked. "Happy Paddy's day," he told the audience, before announcing that he, too, had another gig to get to and sprinting off. The mic was handed to the last of the evening's guest stars, a singer called Bap Kennedy, who closed the show with the songs "Stars of County Down" and "I'll Tell My Ma".

Because of MacGowan's other engagements and Doherty's curfew, the show was over before 9pm, but one hour of Doherty is more satisfying than three hours of most others. As he left the stage, the audience were already talking about the next show, everyone wondering what strange magic he had planned for us next.

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