Former Libertine steps out of the shadows – and impresses

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Yeti : The Borderline, London, June 7

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Yeti : The Borderline, London, June 7

So the saga of the ex-Libertines rolls on. One remains missing, one is filling out nicely and smoking fags while lying in a hot tub on a yacht in the south of France, one sits at the back of the Borderline greeting a gentle torrent of fans. And one – John Hassall – is right up front, centre-stage, playing songs that, 43 years ago in Hamburg, would have been traded with four mop-topped lads for pills and ciggies.

Watching Yeti is like being transported back to winter 1962, a pre-Beatlemania world (they even have a Stuart Sutcliffe lookalike for added authenticity) where battered Bedford vans drive to church-hall gigs and all bands wear suits, mix electric and acoustic guitars and write songs lasting no more than two-and-a-half minutes. As for the music, Yeti move from ‘Flesh And Bone’’s Clash-like ire to a wounded attack on record-biz cynicism – ‘Working For The Industry’, actually not terribly convincing when you’re playing a basement gig on a Tuesday night.

Elsewhere, there’s some mod/Specials-pop grooviness, some jazz chords, and even a moment when the guitars sound like bagpipes. Attractive women in flat caps dance unreservedly, but Yeti don’t seem destined for the enormodomes of the world. Their appeal will, undoubtedly, be fairly selective, no matter how beautiful ‘Never Lose Your Sense Of Wonder’ might be.

At the back, Carl Barât remains in his seat, the queue just as long. But tonight belongs to John. And Paul. And the other ones.

Rob Fitzpatrick