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Watch The Pogues and Kirsty Maccoll give a raucous rendition of 'Fairytale of New York' on St. Patrick's Day in 1988


Is there anything more Christmassy than dancing to folk music, covered in beer and sweat, while fake snow falls on your wet mop, and your friends and family scream with delight?

No, there isn’t. That’s exactly what The Pogues gave a lucky audience on St. Patrick’s Day in 1988 as they performed their iconic Christmas hit ‘Fairytale of New York’. As it’s nearing that most wonderful time of the year we thought we’d partake in some festive cheer.

A lot has been said over the years about ‘Fairytale of New York’. Of late, the song’s controversial use of homosexual slurs has left many frustrated, while The Pogues frontman Shane MacGowan continues to bat away criticism pointing at the characterisation of the song’s lyrics. However you see it, it’s hard to argue about the song’s validity as a knee-slapping good time.

No more so is that felt than when the Pogues themselves are playing it live for you. If you then add on the extra sweet cherry of the late, great Kirsty Maccoll also being on stage and you have yourself the truly memorable night that faced the crowd on St. Patrick’s Day 1988. Though, judging by the amount of beer flying around we’re not sure they’ll remember much.

Taking place at Kentish Town Forum, the antidote to the saccharine stench of ‘Christmas-music’, AKA ‘Fairytale of New York’ is given a suitably charming run out at The Pogues annual piss-up on St. Paddy’s Day. MacGowan delivering his incomprehensible wit on every occasion.

While MacGowan is as erudite and unable to speak as ever, Kirsty Maccoll delivers the kind of rousing performance you might expect from a punk Nancy from Oliver!—equal parts rosy-cheeked, charming and generous. It’s what made her so tightly held to the National heart.

It’s comforting and warm, like a hot toddy next to the fire but instead of the lemon, they use more rum, and instead of the fire… yep, you guessed it— rum. The intoxicating nature of The Pogues and Kirsty Maccoll has seen them and this song become national treasures and as well they should be. As drunk as you might feel while watching the performers do their best work, the truth is this particular tipple comes with a warm glow, a permeating feeling of love and without a dreaded hangover.

So, indulge yourselves on Kirsty Maccoll and The Pogues performing ‘Fairytale of New York’ in all its fake snow, beer, and camaraderie. After all, it’s Christmas.

[MORE] – Remembering the moment Joe Strummer joined The Pogues for a rousing rendition of ‘London Calling’, 1988