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Peter Doherty gig review

Nadia Jaynes catches the troubled singer at Manchester Academy two days before he’s jailed

Published on May 23rd 2011.


Peter Doherty gig review

MY love affair with Peter Doherty began in 2002 when The Libertines whipped my hair with their debut single ‘What a Waster’. The London based foursome had summed up my life, (and essentially my unshakeable habit for pissing things up a wall) in two minutes fifty eight seconds of aural pleasure. 

In the past Doherty has let his fans down, the Babyshambles gigs that I attended were disappointing and a secret solo gig at Odd Bar in Manchester a few years ago was disastrous. Yet an overwhelming faith in Doherty as a performer, musician and lyricist will always prevail.

They were skint - like me, they’d bummed out - like me, but they were on the scene - like me. The release of ‘Up The Bracket’ and their inevitable lurch onto MTV, lead to my discovery that an easy on the eye, baby-faced, military clad beauty was the owner of those wispy vocals - and damn straight I wanted to see him live.

People scoff when I compare The Libertines to The Beatles. Sure they don’t have the back catalogue but take it from a Beatles nut that the relationship between Barat and Doherty is eerily reminiscent of Lennon and McCartney.  The hysteria of girls I witnessed at those early Libertines gigs was every bit as manic as Beatle mania, and lyrically Doherty is easily comparable to Lennon; their shared love for poetry and prose and wordplay is apparent in every track.

When The Libertines disbanded they left a trail of ‘Liberteeny’s’ in their wake and a swarm of bands like The View and The Fratelli’s who knew the formula but never possessed the chemistry to make my knees tremble. Post-Libertines it seemed that both Barat and Doherty had somewhat lost their way but it was Doherty that proved easy fodder for the journalists that like to cut and paste and twist. He became a regular in glossies and red tops (despite the fact that most of the people that slammed him had never even heard a Libertines track). 

The criticism wasn’t completely unfounded though. In the past Doherty has let his fans down, the Babyshambles gigs that I attended were disappointing and a secret solo gig at Odd Bar in Manchester a few years ago was disastrous. Yet an overwhelming faith in Doherty as a performer, musician and lyricist will always prevail, and that‘s essentially what drew me to Manchester Academy last week.

tumblr_ljzca3rcZj1qcltgco1_500.jpgThe Academy was comfortably full but not packed - unlike many of his gigs I’ve been to in the past – and this crowd seemed to be pro-Pete.  As the support act left the stage the crowd chanted “Pete, Pete, Pete” every time there was a gap in the interim music in anticipation of his performance. He was due on stage at half nine and as the clock approached ten, I was beginning to wonder if it might be another disappointing evening, but the lights died down and Peter glided onto the stage, black suit, trilby and ruffled cotton shirt - looking better than ever.  He was flying solo with just a guitar and a rocking chair as accessories to his performance and as he took to the stand and launched into an acoustic version of ‘Don’t Look Back Into The Sun’, I forgave him everything. 

Did I miss the drums and electric guitars?  Strangely not – it was an earnest and humble performance and Doherty is every bit the fragile genius due to their absence. 

It was a crowd pleaser of a set - almost as if Doherty knew he had ground to cover.  He ladled the big numbers from The Libertines back catalogue on thick. ‘Tell The King’, ‘Can’t Stand Me Now’, ‘Music When The Lights Go Out’ and ‘Time For Heroes’ were captivating.  He sprinkled a few of his recent solo tracks such as ‘Broken Love Song’ and ‘Last Of The English Roses’ alongside - the only gimmick being two ballerinas joining him on stage for the latter.  Doherty finished on one of his most lyrically poignant tracks – ‘Down In Albion’ before throwing his guitar into the crowd.  It was a simple act for the fans, but a huge reminder of why I will always love the guy. 

Certainly I’m ready for the comments. I admit I will probably always look at Peter Doherty through rose tinted glasses, but the world’s a better place when it takes on a pinkish hue and I’d rather drink my gin from a teacup than a glass.

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AnonymousJune 4th 2011.

Great writing. Honest. I love him too but I'd like an unbiased dissection of stories about hired goons beating people up, because despite all the great music making persuasive cases about clear tabloid rubbish I can't say I actually know the guy. All journalists are either on one side or the other or don't know who he is, so I can't trust any of them. He lashed out at the pompous sad old guy who was stalking him eventually. I sort of want to know I'm not fueling a fire of wanton vandalism, I'm pretty sure I'm not, but not entirely.. Morrisey at one point became enthralled with the gangsters and violence he said he abhorred, after all. But yeah, the love is pretty unconditional now and I don't think any revelations like that would make me stop liking him. The sister says I should be socially responsible for who I support. Luckily this isn't a court, it is the fantastical world of musical taste.

It's interesting that he's such a divisive character though. A surprising proportion of people seem to think he's a calculated, manipulative, Machiavellian phoney in league with Bieber and, I dunno, Jedward and the lead singer of the Darkness? That seems very extravagant to me. If you actually research the man it seems pretty likely he's just a chaotic, baudelaire influenced, open minded creative type with a knack for accidentally capturing the mood of a generation... The people who hate him seem to be the same people who hate the idea of anyone from the underground of crime and drugs getting any kind of exposure. As if once you are famous, which is a pretty arbitrary trick usually, you have to become some kind of example to the children instead of being yourself. Or I don't know, the idea that they were students who dropped out in fascination with this underground seedy London, and that is somehow parasitic... They were down and out and starving in London and Paris! If Pete is a phoney he's a REAL phoney, like Audrey Hepburn in breakfast at Tiffany's. That's the latest figuring of one fan. Counter arguments? I guess most fans just take the lyrics "fuck 'em" and "See these two cold fingers, these two crooked fingers/ I'll show you a way to mean no". (University trod on me I don't actually get much satisfaction from this intense analysis, but it is a bad habit I'm trying to kick.)

Eddy P. TentiousJune 4th 2011.

Either that or he is a talentless burden on society. One of the two.

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