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Review: The Pogues, O2 Academy, Glasgow

Lisa-Marie Ferla's verdict: Four stars

It's been years since the Barrowlands played host to The Pogues on the Glasgow stop of their traditional festive tour, but it seems as though the older venue's mythology hung over the Academy this year.

Decades of hard living mean that Shane MacGowan is even less renowned for his vocal talents than he ever was, even without the venue's muddy acoustics to contend with.

These days his voice rarely matters to a crowd that will happily bellow along with every word of the band's raucous folk-punk party anthems for the guys in the pit with their light-up Santa hats, but when even Spider Stacy's vocals sound like all he wants for Christmas is his two front teeth you know you have a problem.

To mix things up this year, the band have been performing their classic 1985 album Rum, Sodomy & the Lash in its entirety.

But what the set list lacks in surprise it makes up for in the inclusion of classics like A Pair of Brown Eyes and Dirty Old Town; in the cheeky tin whistle and stamping of feet throughout Sally MacLennane; in the way James Fearnley leaps into the air with his accordion on The Sick Bed of Cuchulainn; and, yes, in MacGowan's cracked voice as he remembers The Old Main Drag when he was "only sixteen".

Coming mere weeks after the death of one of their own, the band's performance is even more poignant.

If Phil Chevron's own Thousands Are Sailing is meant as a tribute, the announcement was lost in the mumble, but music has always spoken more loudly for The Pogues and the football fan-style chants of the guitarist's name from the crowd showed how much he was missed.

Camille O'Sullivan gamely filled in for another ghost, bringing the house - and some falling fake snow - down on a seasonal Fairytale of New York.

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