Rogues Gallery ~ Analog 2008

20 07 2008

On Friday night I attended the most surreal gig of my life. The event was the European debut of Hal Wilner’s Rogue’s Gallery. The brainchild of Pirates of the Caribbean director, Gore Valinski, the Rogue’s Gallery roadshow is captained by music producer Hal Willner, who has worked with artists such as Bono and Marianne Faithful and is largely considered to have been the penultimate cog in the wheel that got Jeff Buckley’s career turning.

His latest star-studded line-up included New York legend Lou Reed, the elusive Shane MacGowan, The Divine Comedy’s Neil Hannon and Hollywood A-lister Tim Robbins. After I eventually found the place (Grand Canal Square, amongst the cranes) the first thing that struck me was the sheer lack of punters. There were maybe 200 people in attendance and the tiny outdoor square was by no means full. The crowd weren’t your typical Friday night gig goers either – a real mixed bag of suits, ageing hippies and industry heads. The atmosphere was incredibly relaxed, no pushing or shoving, room to carry out arduous tasks such as raising a glass to your mouth and clapping.

The first act I caught was blonde duo White Magic, who had quite an impressive set of lungs between them I must say. Despite the blonde pair, bevy of beauties in evening gowns with violins etc, and the guy dressed as a pirate, most eyes were drawn to the tall figure in the black hat hovering around the back of the stage looking slightly shifty. Probably because it was Tim Robbins. Attired in a simple tailored suit topped off with a black fedora and a monochrome scarf which he later used to simulate a whipping (oh er), Robbins spent the first half of the evening flitting about at the back of the stage casually chewing gum and making all the Irish cailĂ­ns noticeably melt by whisper in their ears with a certain glint in his eye. Towards the end though he came into his own and proved that he wasn’t just a crowd-pulling gimmick but actually has a voice worthy of note and held his own accompanying Lou Reed on guitar set to the vocals of our own beloved rogue, Shane MacGowan.

MacGowan, never being one to disappoint, delighted fans halfway through the night by silencing the whispers whistling through the crowd of ‘that fucker had better show up’ and stumbling on to stage, can in hand, keeping true to form. The can didn’t stay in his hand for long though and halfway through shouting his way through a rowdy rendition of what I presume was once a beautiful and heartfelt sea ballad he lobbed said can of Guinness into the crowd and proceeded to attempt self-asphyxiation with his mic. lead. Well, he certainly knows how to hold his audiences attention, even if he does near assault them in the process.

Lou Reed spent the majority of the evening watching from side stage like a proud father, and seemed to take particular interest in the obscure, butcher’s apron – attired David Thomas of Pere Ubu fame. Reed ventured onto stage after some time and delighted the crowd with a fantastic rendition of the rather homo-erotic ditty, Handsome Cabin Boy, in his signature gravel-raked voice. After an introduction by Wilner, Reed, Robbins and MacGowan shared the stage for one song and 1000’s of photo op’s.

The Analog crew won’t be recieving any awards for organisation… the gig was a mish mash of disorganised improv and reading just-learned lyrics from sheets… but with a line-up featuring Dave – iD Busaras, Guggi, Shane MacGowan and David Thomas, all under the watchful eye of a bearded man in full pirate attire, what else could be expected but an evening of high spirited craziness…. oh what fun!