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POP MUSIC | POP EYE

August 04, 1996|Dave Jennings, from London

POGUES KISS OFF: After a colorful, 15-year career, the boisterous, trend-setting folk-punk band the Pogues has called it quits--but not before a hastily arranged farewell concert in London last week that featured a brief reunion with the most celebrated ex-Pogue, Shane MacGowan.

The end of the band seemed inevitable to anyone who'd followed the Pogues saga--in recent years it's been more of the Incredible Shrinking Pogues, as one by one core members left, starting with the 1991 exit of leader MacGowan after his well-known alcoholism made him a liability in live performances. Each successive album and tour seemed to find another key Pogue missing: Phil Chevron quit due to illness, James Fearnley left to start a family and Terry Woods went solo.

Recently banjo player Jem Finer said that he planned to quit and, in an ironic final move, Spider Stacy, who took over the vocals from MacGowan, was himself "suspended on sick leave," according to band manager Andy Bernstein, for his own alcohol excesses.

"They were initially going to take a year's break," says Bernstein, noting that some of the Pogues may work together in a new band. "[But] with Jem leaving, if one more had left they'd be down to just one original member, so it might be better to make it a new project, with a new angle."

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