twas a night of many firsts…
…definitely one for the archives!
a bit of history. shane macgowan, former lead singer of irish “punk” legends, the pogues, was off on a solo venture. the problem is he had a bit of an alcohol problem. so, for instance, when he was supposed to play in dallas, texas, he was scheduled at a venue that a venue in deep ellum called “trees”. the problem was deep ellum was predominantly pedestrians only, so he had to be dropped off a few doors down from said venue and through any of the few doors there was a bar. hence, he never made it to the venue, instead getting more and more shitfaced the closer he got until he was unable to even enter let alone perform.
the same promoter did the austin show and didn’t want that to happen again, so he sent a pretty latina in a very low cut shirt and tight jeans to literally lock arms with him as he exited the plane at the gate. this was in november of 2000 so 9/11 wasn’t a thing yet and you could do that.
she then drove him straight to the backstage door of la zona rosa and walked him in where the first person he ended up seeing was me.
that part was not part of the plan.
but the show was sold out, and all comps had been handled, so i didn’t have anything to do any more. i would have had to deal with refunds and shit if we had a repeat of dallas, but we had him IN the building, so things looked good. problem was i was in a sleeveless shirt, so my nice, big, four leaf clover with “IRISH” below it was visible, so he yells out “ONE OF ME OWN!”, and proceeds to come put his arm around me and pour us each a slightly cranberry tinted cape cod. he had steve buscemi level bags under his eyes, but they were blood red.
i can honestly say i’ve never seen somebody this drunk yet still upright at the same time. and no swaying!
the band launched into their intro music and he headed up on stage…he insisted i come with, so i posted up at the corner of the stage as he walked up front and center.
“good evening, austin texas!”, he yelled, the crowd roared, and he turned around gave me a thumbs up. i gave one back.
“we’ve got a good looking crowd in the house tonight!”, he exclaimed, repeating the turned around thumbs up and me repeating in kind.
“i hope we don’t have any niggers in the audience tonight!”, he blurted out, repeating his turn around to me, but this time receiving a frown and shaken head in response, temporarily changing his facial expression to an obvious, “oops – was that a fuck up?” one.
“and none of them wetbacks, either!”, he shouted, but when he turned around to give me his last thumbs up a beer bottle caught him in the back of the head, triggering what we’ll call a not so positive response. the band stopped, and i felt a hand on my shoulder, turned around, and was eye to eye with the promoter, who motioned for me to step off stage and head back behind it.
this is where we got another first… (in addition to the aforementioned ‘first time drunk…upright’ combo). it was the first time i was asked to do refunds even though a show still happened. fortunately the only people that came up saying they were offended by shane’s comments bought scalped comp tickets, which means they were originally given out for free, so with a “$0.00” face value that was all that could be refunded – nothing. i caught the rest of the show, and left, figuring if i went backstage i might not wake up in this country when all was said and done.
RIP shane macgowan – 1957-2023