The Libertines

The Libertines

– MANCHESTER ARENA, MANCHESTER –

There’s a sense of nostalgia is the air tonight as fans pour into the Manchester Arena. For many, The Libertines meant a sense of freedom in their most influential years – the teens. They gave us drug and alcohol fuelled rock anthems with lyrics that were catchy, and better sung slurred with a pint in hand, but unsuspectingly ended up shining a spotlight on the darker side of rock music. I have to wonder, is this band still recovering from the backlash of the most public drug addiction this country has seen, or will their 2016 comeback finally overshadow the past?

Already proving to make this time around more about the music than the lifestyle thanks to the hype of their newest album, Anthems For Doomed Youth, Libertines kick off with banger ‘Barbarians’ as distorted images flicker on a VCR-like screen behind the band. One thing is certain within the first fifteen minutes of the show, the hype of Libertines hasn’t died, and really has only grown stronger with those new tracks that feed their ever growing flame. If you thought this band wouldn’t be able to fill an arena, you were wrong. The twangy ‘Fame And Fortune’ and classic ‘Boys In The Band’ start riots within the standing crowd, union jack flags waving and cups of beer get tossed through the air to unknowing moshers. Sounding polished as ever, The Libertines are leaving the crowd in an absolute frenzy.

A slightly more-sober-than-we’re-used-to Pete Doherty hugs the microphone with Carl Barat, evidently showing that the two have moved passed their initial troublings felt while recording their self-titled second album, and all that followed. Reflecting on their previous self-destructive behaviour during the Thailand recorded ‘Gunga Din’, Doherty sings with a passion during “I’m getting sick and tired of feeling sick and tired again”, crashing into the chorus with a grin on his face that could crack a mirror.

Sound wise, this gig is dynamite. Arena shows have the tendency to either go well, or become swallowed up by the open spaces, but tonight, we have no complaints. It’s hard to believe 2004’s ‘Can’t Stand Me Now’ is nearly twelve years old, and you wouldn’t think it the way the crowd are livening up as those recognisable few riffs begin.

Overall, it has been an unforgettable set. Closing off the show with fan favourite ‘Don’t Look Back Into The Sun’, it’s pretty clear that Libertines have gotten their act together. Tonight we’ve seen the potential of a band who have been through it all, and had things been different, we may not have had to wait 11 years for a new single. It’s hard to think of any group that has returned from Hell with more sincerity and energy than ever and with that, ultimately releasing an album that could be considered one of their greater achievements. If you were hesitant, they are absolutely worth watching live.

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Brit Jean

I'm known as Gigs Editor over here at Silent Radio HQ. I've been music blogging and writing in Manchester for the past few years after graduating with a Literature degree back home in Canada. Never have I experienced a city quite like Manchester - so many great gigs and so little time! In 2014 I started an Independent Record label, Blak Hand Records with my best mate, and we aim to put out some of our favourite garage rock and psychedelic artists from both Liverpool and Manchester. We're always looking for contributors so if you love music and writing, get in touch with us at Silent Radio! x