Sometime before he was first sacked by The Pogues in 1991, Shane MacGowan took so much high-strength speed while on tour in New Zealand that he began to hallucinate Maori warriors rising up from their graves. They commanded him to “Prove you’re with us!” by stripping naked and painting his pale and trembling body bright blue. Shane obliged. First he blue himself, to borrow a phrase from Arrested Development, then he blue his entire hotel suite.
Rock ’n’ roll tales of debauched excess like this pose a sticky problem for makers of biographical documentaries. Naturally, no video documentation of the event exists, and it’d be hard for actors to shoot this scene without the whole thing morphing into a twisted Crimewatch reconstruction. Punk director Julien Temple finds an elegant solution to this dilemma in his new film Crock Of Gold: A Few Rounds With Shane MacGowan. He animates each anecdote in the classic cartoon style best suited to the story. Thus we see the young Shane drawn like Plug from The Bash Street Kids during his school days, before he reappears in the psychedelic style of an R. Crumb comic as he embarks on an early acid trip. For the aforementioned ‘blue Maori’ escapade, Temple and his fellow producer Johnny Depp brought in Hunter S. Thompson collaborator Ralph Steadman to give the tale the authentically gonzo visuals it so richly deserves.