Babyshambles, Brixton Academy, London

Doherty embroiled in another shambles as music stops for onstage brawl with guitarist
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The Independent Culture

Pete Doherty, the former Libertine was at liberty - at least until midnight.

Pete Doherty, the former Libertine was at liberty - at least until midnight.

The rock singer who is about to plead not guilty to charges of robbery and blackmail had just had his bail condition of a 10pm curfew extended by two hours; that's two hours of valuable freedom, allowing him to play his biggest gig to date with a new band, Babyshambles, to a 5,000-strong sell-out crowd at the Brixton Academy in south London. That is exactly double the size of the band's last big show to date, at north London's Forum.

After a low-key, 45-minute warm-up set at The Garage in north London on Monday night to a few hundred fans, if he didn't show up last night there would have been some clamour from the expectant crowd.

Two months ago, 200 fans at the London Astoria rioted and trashed the stage after they had waited until 2am for Babyshambles, only to be told the band would not be playing.

As he came on stage, Pete was welcomed with cheers and applause deserving of a star. His status has become nothing short of an icon, albeit a tragic one. He can lay claim to dating one of the most legendary super-models - Kate Moss, and, despite being a self-confessed drug addict, was named the "coolest icon" in NME's Coolest 2004.

Babyshambles began their set with an energised rendition of the hit single "Killamangiro'' which made the Top 10 in November. Unfortunately, although a concert at the Academy is a sure sign of increasing mainstream popularity, the energy of a rock band used to more intimate, pub-sized venues was inevitably lost in the vastness of the Brixton venue.

The place is all too familiar to Pete, who played three gigs there as the front man to the Libertines. It is all too ironic that Babyshambles went head to head with the Libertines in the Best Live Act at the NME Awards last week.

Performances at the beginning of the month saw Pete struggling to keep control. And the second song last night was cut short by his shout of "Oi, Oi, Oi! Push back, will you?'' to the surging crowd. The star who upset so many fans when he failed to show up at numerous gigs is now protecting them trying to prevent a crush. "There are a few people getting hurt at the front. You have to move back," he exhorted.

Chaos resumed when he grabbed the guitarist Patrick Walden by the collar just before the crucial guitar solo and knocked the wires out. Lunging at Pete with his instrument, Walden rolled onto the floor with his lead singer. It could have been a play fight for effect, but every roadie and backstage crew member appeared on stage to remove them. Members of the crowd began to leave amid frustrated comments of "I predict a riot''.

Resuming their appreciation, the remains of the crowd sang along with Pete to the Libertine track, dedicated to on/off lover Kate Moss, "What Katie Did''. It's the song Doherty has been consoling himself with by playing it repeatedly to a girl at the rehab clinic he has been attending.

A free spirit now, Pete put on his legendary trilby and cast it off again, into the crowd, before departing on a grand, final gesture. In tune with his attitude of living for the moment, he belted out "Fuck Forever''.

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