Brighton Magazine

The Brighton Magazine

Selected Brighton Magazine Article

Thursday 21 October 2021

Book Review: A Furious Devotion - The Authorised Story Of Shane MacGowan

"It's nobody's business what anybody drinks. It's nobody's business how long they stay up, where they go when they stay up .. Once that gets stripped away, the last vestige of human dignity is gone, right?" (Shane McGowan).

In Richard Balls biography A Furious Devotion: The Authorised Story of Shane MacGowan. producer Steve Lillywhite alludes to the fact that it's a miracle Shane MacGowan wakes up of a morning.

Shane's a man who lives without routine, cares little for neither wealth nor belongings. He's a writer who happened to have penned songs. A poet who stumbled upon live performing.  

He's a singular individual without the need of affirmation from an adoring public. But most of all, he's a highly intelligent, loving, funny and caring individual who just happened to have failed to jump off the performing bandwagon before it careered out of control.

To Richard Balls great credit he doesn't give the romantic version of the life so well (badly) lived. 

What we do get is a detailed peek into a world where almost all the academics and creatives that have entered Shane's orbit were aware what a formidable intellect and talent he possessed. 


Described by the author as shy and complex. Over his two years of stealth passive interrogation of Shane, his family, former bandmates and associates Balls learnt to tread a careful line in both interview and approach.

Shane dismissed his formative years in Tunbridge Wells, Kent - which were, according to his sister, spent happily in a home that afforded the young Shane freedom to roam and grow unhindered – and instead focused on his family's bolt-hole in Tipperary, Ireland.

After a well documented brush with mental health problems during his formative years, Shane's parents were happy when he shed his hippy pretensions and jumped head first into the fast unravelling lifestyle of punk and its unified belief system of youth and DIY music making. 


Shane found notoriety if not fame with The Nipple Erectors (renamed The Nips), and then fame itself with The Pogues (formerly Pogue Mahone).

From thereon-in it was a roller coaster of intensifying demands on Shane's time and talent. Endless tours, albums to write, record and deliver to schedule and budget. Shane wanted out but his sense of loyalty had him stay. Then things really went downhill.

Now, in the present, Shane is happy with his TV, fags, friends and endless supply of alcohol. He's lauded by his peers and revered by his public. As long as they keep their distance, Shane will stumble on merrily. 

A Furious Devotion: The Life of Shane MacGowan by Richard Balls should be the last word on its subject. It's as entertaining as the man himself, as informed and detailed as the man's intellect. And it's quite possibly the best biography of this or any decade. Buy it!

by: Mike Cobley




Share    


The First Release of Brighton Fringe events will feature comedy from Paralympic, World Championship and European Championship dressage medallist Ricky Balshaw; Love and Money, a play by internationally-acclaimed writer Dennis Kelly and the return of award-winning comedy actress Joanna Neary with a show based on her comedy podcast Wife On Earth.

On the 21st December hundreds of people will walk 5k to support the NSPCC. Landmarks across the UK, including the BA i360 in Brighton and Lancing College Chapel are also supporting the charity by lighting up and turning the NSPCC's trademark green colour.

Creative Learning at Theatre Royal Brighton runs a programme of workshops, performances, talks, tours and events alongside the shows on its stage. 

Mr Bruce - former frontman of The Correspondents - marks the start of his solo career in spectacular style with the release of Race To Nowhere [Part One], and a date at Brighton's Green Door Store.

Following last year’s virtual sing-along, Brighton Festival Chorus (BFC) returns to the stage for its annual Christmas Concert at Brighton Dome on Sunday 12 December at 4pm. 
Credit Vicki McManus

Budding young circus performers are preparing to take to the stage at Brighton Dome this December, with help from professional artists from Circolombia.

When the lights go up at the start of the performances of Riverdance: The New 25th Anniversary Show at The Brighton Centre next month, the excitement will be palpable, not just from the audience but very much from all the performers too.

The Beatles famously turned their back on touring towards the end of their career but The Bootleg Beatles, due to Covid, as with the rest of the industry were forced into an unwanted hiatus. 
Credit David-Geli

Komedia has teamed up with leading independent comedy promoters Little Wander for a fresh take on their weekend stand-up comedy offering.

After years spent living on opposite sides of the Atlantic world events threw Laura Mary Carter and Steven Ansell of Brighton's Blood Red Shoes back together into what has become the must fruitful era of their 17 years together. 
Florin and Charlie

Over one-hundred Brighton residents have been offered full or part time roles on-site at the £120 million Edward Street Quarter development as part of an ongoing social value commitment to support the local community.

The South-East's largest charity supporting vulnerable young people, YMCA DownsLink Group, has launched its Christmas fundraising appeal
Credit Vic Frankowski

Brighton city centre will once again be filled with a sea of colour and creativity as thousands of school children, teachers and volunteers celebrate the return of the Brighton Festival Children's Parade after a two-year gap on Saturday 7th May 2022.
Credit Rosie Powell

This year, Towner Eastbourne invited members of the LGBTQIA+ community in East Sussex to take part in a unique creative project, exploring personal responses to artworks in the Towner Collection, through a queer lens. 

Organising a conference or event in Brighton?
See our Brighton Conference section.
Brighton web design by ...ntd