The Libertines paid tribute to the armed forces as they brought their hotly anticipated London comeback gig to a close in Hyde Park this weekend (July 5). The band, who played two intimate warm-up shows at Glasgow’s Barrowlands venue last weekend (June 28, 29), finished their set with dual frontmen Carl Barat and Pete Doherty reciting Siegfried Sassoon’s 1918 poem, Suicide In The Trenches.
After the pair recounted the poem word for word, which they also recited at the NME Awards in 2004, Doherty addressed the audience, saying: “We remember and honour those who gave their lives for liberty. We thought it was nerve-wracking coming out here tonight but leaving Kings Cross station with a rifle across your back in 1914 must have been really hard.”
Earlier, the band’s set had to be halted over concerns for the crowd’s safety. The four piece had opened with ‘Vertigo’ and were midway through second song ‘Boys In The Band’ when security came on stage and stopped the performance. Doherty motioned to the crowd to move back before telling them: “We can’t carry on if you don’t calm down a bit.”
The Libertines then restarted where they left off only to be halted again seconds later. Drummer Gary Powell came down to the front of the stage to tell the crowd to calm down before leading them in a chant of the riff to The White Stripes’ ‘Seven Nation Army’. Doherty then joined in with a run through of The Foundations’ ‘Build Me Up Buttercup’.
Things eventually got moving again with ‘The Delaney’ and ‘Campaign Of Hate’. Doherty dedicated ‘Time For Heroes’ to the Guildford Four’s Gerry Conlon, saying: “Gerry Conlon, if you’re looking down this afternoon” before the song. Then, a rendition of ‘Music When The Lights Go Out’ was preceded by Pete chanting “Albion-ey, ole, ole, ole”. After the song Barat playfully leapfrogged over Doherty.
Towards the end of the set things had to be halted once more as fans climbed the sound towers to get a better view of the show. Powell and bassist John Hassall had left the stage for Doherty and Barat to play a version of stripped-down song ‘France’. Barat scolded fans as the gig was further delayed, telling them: “If you don’t stop climbing the towers, Pigman [Doherty] can’t do his solo.”
“I wanted to drive my camper van into the backstage area,” Doherty told the crowd. “The security guards said ‘you don’t want to do that because of the traffic’. I wanted to drive it in and put union jacks on top. They said ‘you’ve got nothing to fly the flag for’ and I said what about William Blake? What about Jock Scott? What about Johnny Marr? What about Carl Barat?”
As the show came to a close, Doherty chanted once again over the microphone, this time singing “Libertine til I die/Libertine til I die/I know I am, I’m sure I am, Queen’s Park Rangers til I die.” They then brought the set to a riotous end with ‘I Get Along’ which concluded with Barat and Doherty jumping around hugging until they brought each other down to the floor.
As the four band members gathered in a line to salute their fans, Doherty initiated a burst of the hokey cokey while Powell told them: “You are all amazing and you are all Libertines.”
The band have since announced a run of three nights at London’s Alexandra Palace in September. The Libs reunion rumbles on…