The Libertines


It’s that time of year again, The Libertines are on tour. It’s been the same program more or less for the last five years for the likely lads: a few festival slots during the summer and then a lovely tour of their home ground at the back end of the year. Last year had Pete hit the headlines for devouring a monster fry up challenge, this year he’s back in the paper for more familiar reasons; arrested for cocaine possession in Paris and several driving offences back home in England. I couldn’t believe it this summer when a Facebook memory popped up of me and my college friends at their comeback gig in Hyde Park back in 2014. Since then, they have just been able to tour and tour off the back of one new album.

I have managed to catch them a couple of times since Hyde Park: I saw them perform a very unfulfilling headline slot at Leeds Festival in 2015 and then back home in Hull in 2017 for a little bit of a rawer performance, but still I felt the energy wasn’t quite there. Although that said, they are a band I will always be drawn back to as it is their unpredictable chaotic legacy that keeps people buying tickets each year.

I walk into a sea of Fred Perry polos and excitement, it’s the first of two sold out nights here at the Victoria Warehouse and with the election just a couple of days ahead, there’s a lovely feeling of festive hope in the air. The Libs haven’t released anything decent under a Tory government, so for that at least we are hoping for change come Thursday.

As always, they arrive to the stage fashionably/worryingly late this evening. I’m down the front and as always at The Libs’ gigs, the crowd are up for it from the get go. They launch into ‘The Delaney’, and immediately the crowd seem to launch any remaining beer they have and on comes the 90-minute singalong that lies ahead.

After the screams of, “No no no, yeah yeah yeah” from the crowd from the chorus of the opener, the crowd settle a little for ‘Heart of The Matter’ for what becomes a trend for a part of the evening. When a track from the third album Anthems for Doomed Youth is played, the crowd just do not seem to react as they do to the tracks off the first two albums. It’s an album released four years ago and it still has not seemed to have been taken to the fan’s hearts.

The band though play these tracks perfectly, Carl and Pete are back sharing the microphone and giving each other looks of joy throughout the set. There’s nothing quite like the look Pete gives Carl while singing the lyrics, “You shut me up and blamed it on the brown” during the band’s hugely successful ‘Can’t Stand Me Now’ and it’s these songs that get the biggest reaction from the crowd.

Often overlooked are the rhythm section of The Libertines, it’s them after all that have to remain a tight unit, in order to keep the chaotic ship afloat. Drummer Gary Powell, during ‘Boys in the Band’ never fails to amaze me at the intricate fast beat behind that track, as well as the teasing intro. Looking around me during these nostalgic 00’s tracks, there is nothing but wide-eyed fun being had, everybody’s singing together and a mutual feel of love is shown for the boys in the band.

The band end the set with some classics, which ascend us all back to the times we heard those first records. ‘Up the Bracket’ is for starters which is of course brought in by Pete’s unique outburst of nonsense; the crowd hold up two fingers during the chorus. Then without any hesitation Carl sings the famous, “Please don’t get me wrong, see I forgive with a song, we’ll call the Likely Lads,” which of course leads into the band’s most anthemic song, ‘What Became of the Likely Lads’. The set is ended with ‘Time for Heroes’ and by this time there is steam coming from the crowd but we all know it’s not over yet.

Strolling back onto the stage before playing ‘Music when the Lights Go Out’, Pete gives the crowd a speech against the Tories, which inevitably leads to a chant of “OOOOHHHHH JEREMY CORBYN!” before he plays the classic track. Then for me comes the highlight of the night, a softly sung rendition of ‘What Katie Did’. Carl floats around the stage with mic in hand, as the crowd deliver backing vocals for him, it really is a lovely two-way effort. After the couple of more melancholy tracks, demonstrating the front men still have some youth left in their lungs, the creeping drums to ‘Don’t Look Back into the Sun’ emerge and we all let go of the last bit of energy we have. For one last dance.

As we all pour out of the Victoria Warehouse into the pissing down rain and return back to reality, I reflect on the night and compare it to the previous times I have seen them. Tonight had a feel of the real and raw side of The Libertines, all looked well between the Likely Lads. Although no new tracks were played from the highly anticipated and talked about fourth album, there was certainly a feel of the future energy of the band and it was one of excitement. Now to find a taxi.

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