The troubled singer/songwriter and the band have toured sporadically since forming in 1995 but have been seen more frequently – including a U.S. club tour last year.

MacGowan is best known for fronting his former band, the Pogues, before the Celt-punk group fired him in 1991 for increasingly erratic behavior owing to drugs and drink.

Perhaps coincidentally, the Pogues have just released a greatest-hits package.

MacGowan and the Popes have scheduled 23 cities to date for the upcoming tour, featuring two dates in Chicago and San Francisco, and visits to Montreal, Toronto, Pittsburgh, Detroit, Vancouver, Seattle and Los Angeles.

St. Patrick’s Day will find them performing at the Heineken Irish Expo at New York City’s Webster Hall.

The group is out in support of their most recent album, Holloway Boulevard, released last March. They’ll record a live album during the tour and plan to release it this fall.

MacGowan rose to prominence with the Pogues and albums including the Elvis Costello-produced Rum, Sodomy and the Lash in 1985 and If I Should Fall From Grace With God in 1988.

But as MacGowan’s appetite for various chemical substances resulted in a string of missed performances – including several dates opening for Bob Dylan in 1988 – the band’s fortunes began to wane and he was dismissed.

He pulled himself together in 1994 – reportedly with the help of friends like Sinead O’Connor – to form the Popes and has recorded three albums with them.

A documentary on MacGowan’s life is scheduled to be released in Ireland later this month. The film was shot last year and portrays the conflict between his musical talent and the temptations of celebrity. MacGowan speaks frankly about his demons and his battle to survive. Originally meant for television, the film so impressed a major distribution company that it was snatched up for theatrical releas