The Libertines + Dead Freight + DSM IV 25.11.21 O2 Academy Bournemouth
Bournemouth’s band pulling power has turned up a notch this Autumn. My fourth visit here to the O2 in Boscombe since we were released from Lockdown. I’ve given this O2 its own blog to stop repeating myself on each return:
I wouldn’t count myself as a Libertines fan but I couldn’t resist seeing the naughtiest boy of his generation and his orignal band when they were advertised back in a still heavily restricted Covid Spring. (I’ve driven here tonight with wife Sally and friends Tim and Becky.)
I didn’t start listening much to Pete Doherty’s music until his Babyshambles years (2003 onwards) and notably around the time of the release of the album Down in Albion, produced by Mick Jones of The Clash. Doherty went through very well publicised drug problems which led to the split from The Libertines and he came out of voluntary rehab to tour with Babshambles in 2007. I went to see them in Bournemouth and while my ticket says Windsor Hall I recall it was moved to a smaller hall in the BIC due to poor ticket sales – so I got to stand instead of the balcony seat booked. I have a vague memory of beer cups flying.
Ten years later Doherty appeared under his own name with a band, as a late substitute for The Jesus and Mary Chain, at the 2017 Victorious Festival which I was down the front for, proper camera in hand.
It was a great performance but you had to worry still about his health. He was said to have recovered from his drug problems but onlookers weren’t convinced. His backing band ended up encouraging him off the stage after he took the improvisation a bit far and lost them while going way overtime. He performed several songs laying down and sitting in a heap looking troubled, yet still knocking out the riffs and jangles of his distinctive guitar playing.
It was good to see him return tonight ‘looking well’ (I remember people using that term for me when I put on several stone) and sporting a festive Libertines jumper…. available at the merch stand but not exactly flying off the shelves.
I’ve been listening to the Time for Heroes greatest hits album recently in preparation and the song that seemed so chaotic and apt for Doherty’s wayward image was one anthem that stood out and I was hoping they would do: What a Waster. They opened with it. The place went nuts – beer flying everywhere. Meanwhile Doherty played on looking calm and now untroubled in his sensible jumper.
It’s the main old Libertines line up on the tour. With Doherty also on vocals and guitar is Carl Bârat, Gary Powell on drums and John Hassall on bass.
Under the cover of the balcony, avoiding the occasional flying beer, I went for a wander to take some pics nearer the front. Doherty jangles away, meandering over to Carl Bârat regularly so it resembles a jam session amid a gig at times. This is a great double fronted band – Doherty keeps mainly to one side and doesn’t hog it.
The more familiar songs from the greatest hits album come out: What Katy Did, Can’t Stand Me Now and What Became of the Likely Lads? I wander upstairs to the first balcony and get an aerial view of a very mobile crowd – not just the usual mosh pit but people popping in and out, carrying drinks, spilling drinks, throwing drinks. Frantic.
Doherty picks up his Queens Park Rangers scarf and gives a chorus of Come on You Rs. Some Cherries fans give a response… their ground is only half a mile away. I never had him down as a football fan.
Last time I saw Doherty I thought he might be doomed and I was pleased to see that the naughty boy appears to have taken a diversion off the road to ruin. Long may it continue. I hope the gutter press aren’t too disappointed.
They have now added a fourth date at Kentish Town Forum in December and those last two at the end of the tour should be quite a finale. Hopefully they’ll record one of them.