Pete and co. closed the festival with a relentlessly boisterous set.
“How many of you are actually from Margate?” Carl Bârat asked the – well rowdy – audience at the Margate Winter Gardens last night. The query was met with an enormous roar, to which Carl replied: “We’re your new neighbours! Alright!” The Libertines recently bought the decrepit Palm Court Hotel in the seaside town, with plans to transform it into a restaurant and recording studio. You’d think the band were already residents here, though, given the homecoming heroes welcome they received from an audience that moshed, pogoed and stomped on the floor as they demanded more tunes during this warmhearted two-hour set.
The Sunday night headline show at By The Sea festival was the penultimate date on the band’s ludicrously named Tiddeley Om Pom Pom tour, a series of gigs in the UK’s seaside towns, and it’s certainly all a bit end-of-the-pier. There was a warm-up act, a magician called The Magic Mod, who delivered 20 minutes of deliberately shambolic magic and highly unwoke comedy. The audience seemed a bit non-plussed, to be honest, but then The Libs stormed onstage with the staccato opening riff to a raucous rendition of ‘Time For Heroes’ and the venue became an absolute rowdfest. It was a bravura, celebratory performance from thereon in.
Self-mythology has been The Libertines’ forte since they charted their own disintegration with the classic ‘Can’t Stand Me Now’, taken from their second album, and at one point last night they performed ‘Boys In The Band’ with images of themselves as younger men displayed behind them. Pete seemed in fine fettle, rocking a severe undercut and floppy fringe that covered half of his face, and Carl leaned over to stroke his hair tenderly during ‘What Katie Did.’ Yet it wasn’t all nostalgia: one standout moment saw Carl tinkle on the ivories for the mournful ballad ‘You’re My Waterloo’, taken from 2015 comeback album ‘Anthems For Doomed Youth’.
For the most part, though, this was a relentlessly boisterous show; one that included a battering solo from Gary Powell, who thrashed the drums as spotlights broke into him; and in which the audience punctuated the pre-encore lull with an “Ohhhh Jeremy Corbyn” chant. That encore, featuring ‘Music When The Light Goes Out’ and ‘Don’t Look Back Into The Sun’, was followed by about 10 minutes of applause that the band stuck around to soak up. Earlier this year, when The Libertines announced plans to set up shop, Carl explained: “We’re looking for a home.” Looks like they’ve found it.