How were they, a reader asks? Well, I've been trying to see them live for going on fifteen years now, and it was worth the wait. They were pretty spry for a bunch of guys in their fifties, the music was good, and Shane McGowan was totally incomprehensible, which only made the show better. He did slip up at one point and deliver a perfectly lucid and understandable "How's everyone doing tonight?" back-and-forth with the screaming crowd, but it was a small flaw in an otherwise extraordinary show.
The funny part of the show was the demographics--I was one of the younger whippersnappers in the audience (Dave Weigel, who is in his mid-twenties, may well actually have been the youngest). Nonetheless a mosh pit formed around the stage, complete with fauxhawks and a few guys wearing bandannas on their heads, a look I thought had gone out sometime around 1993.
By the first encore, the front half of the floor at the 9:30 club was a writhing mass of bouncing bodies. Their perturbations were somehow eerily reminiscent of a bunch of guys with thick wool sweaters and pint glasses, swaying in unison as they belt out an old favorite in the pub. I waited with bated breath for the injuries to start, but apparently Boniva really works. Still, no one should slam dance in a polo shirt. And the absolute highlight of the evening was when Shane drunkenly knocked the microphone into the pit--and a guy in a cardigan handed it back.
Did I mention that for the actual last song, at the end of the second encore, Spider Stacy did his signature "bashing a beer tray against my head" percussion act? I mean, it really doesn't get much better than that.