Libertines : London Kentish Town Forum

Raise a glass to them...

Dazzled by bright lights, bold statements and titanic struggles – and drunk on Christmas booze – 2,500 assorted fans and voyeurs surge towards a stage featuring a chiselled quiet ‘un, a pummelling hero, a twinkle-eyed sex symbol

and a street-bruised angel: [a]Libertines[/a].

These are, of course, are the celebration gigs. The ones that toast the fact

that, against the odds, [a]Libertines[/a] have survived a tougher twelve months than Courtney. Only last Summer, it seemed like the merry-go-round of burglary, crack, arrests and prison had left their Arcadian dream in tatters. Now they’re here for three sold-out nights, playing in front of all their friends.

Friends like Chas’n’Dave, who support on the first night. The choice of these ’80s cock(ney) rock journeymen to support is typical of Pete’n’Carl’s out-of-synch worldview. A whole bunch of pearly hits including ‘Rabbit’, ‘Gertcha’ and ‘Snooker Loopy’ are despatched to curious acclaim. It would appear that, following Peter’s rehabilitation, [a]Libertines[/a] are doing the same for Chas N Daves’ own criminal records.

But like [a]Morrissey[/a]’s touching championing of the previously derided Sandie

Shaw, this is no ironic wink for the fashionistas, it’s a righteous

re-calibration of pop’s compass, not to mention a chance to indulge in a

spot of hero worship as Pete leads a starry-eyed stumble through a song

apparently called ‘Down The Road There’s a Blooming Riot Going On’.

It’s a hard act to follow. But this is [a]Libertines[/a]’ party. ‘Horrorshow’ is the revved-up blast of snarling, spittle-stained beauty that ignites each evening and sets the relentless pace. But it’s eclipsed by the official debut of forthcoming single ‘The Last Post On The Bugle’, a whacked-out yelp of the doomed that astonishingly grows in confidence across the nights. It screams Britishness, futile struggle and bitter romance. How appropriate, particularly for a band almost single-handedly fighting a Dad’s Army rearguard action against the American interlopers.

But ‘Don’t Look Back Into The Sun’ is the clincher, an alluring glimpse of

next year’s album that’s speedy, ragged and raw. ‘Up The

Bracket’ and ‘Time For Heroes’ are tossed out with an equal furious

gnawing energy.

There are of course spectacles that need to be mentioned: The frisson

between the half-naked Pete ‘n’ Carl as they casually swap and share mics; the moment when the apple hurtles at the stage and Pete carelessly plucks it out of its trajectory and takes a bite; Pete furiously kicking the mic stand into the audience; the crushing minor key howl of ‘Plan A’; the delicate Parisian air of ‘Seven Deadly Sins’ on the last night; the broken guitar strap that inspires Pete to casually hurl his guitar into the audience before following it himself and the

stage invasion on the last two nights.

After these dates, suddenly those sharp suits, skinny ties and NY attitude look threadbare and inconsequential in comparison. It would appear that we’ve witnessed the greatest British band since [a]Smiths[/a], bolstered by the best frontline duo since Strummer and Jones. With work on their second album underway, pray that the titanic struggles that threatened to sink this majestic Albion quartet are over. Raise a glass to them now.

Anthony Thornton