Babyshambles, The Brickyard, Carlisle
A louche yet lucid addition to the legend of Pete
Wednesday 21 September 2005
Doherty's catalogue of misdemeanours "both metaphorical and literal'' have been well documented, but, for the sake of review, they bear repeating.
Even neglecting the fact that his first - and probably the more fondly remembered in time - band, the Libertines, were the last gang in town for a year and then imploded in a blizzard of bitterness and ill-feeling (echoes of the Sex Pistols already), there's still the self-affirmed heroin problem, the stormy affair with Kate Moss, and many public spats and fracas to take into account.
Reading such a litany of hell-raising leaves you in no doubt as to where the seemingly bottomless wells of approval his fans afford him come from. Those young enough not to know any better look at the fast-paced, dangerous, bullishly concern-free life he appears to lead and aspire towards such edgy glamour invading their own lives.
Those a little older and more knowledgeable about the dangers of such excess watch on from the sidelines, yet secretly take a guilty form of pleasure as he reminds them of their own foolish youth.
Given Doherty's odd respect for rock 'n' roll's lineage, then - in comparison to most young musicians' obnoxious party line that they wish to wipe away the old and reinvent music - the crowd's furious rendition of the song which introduced him on stage, The Who's "My Generation", and updating of its lyric to the original "Why don't you all fuck off'' defined the atmosphere. Youth and energy, and petulant, misdirected defiance were all.
A sweaty, brick-walled antechamber in the provincial environs of Carlisle on a Tuesday might be a strange place for a definitively cosmopolitan Doherty and his second band, Babyshambles, to begin this rescheduled 13-date national tour, but it may as well have been a Saturday night in Camden for the welcome given him. And, given his reputation for non-appearances or intoxicated farragoes, Doherty saw fit to reward his acolytes with a commendably lucid performance, albeit one still mingled with his trademark eccentric chatter and louche arrogance.
Strolling on in a smart suit jacket ripped from waist to shoulder blade, he proceeds to strip to his bare chest, taking time to swing a tape measure proffered from the crowd around his head and pass stage invaders the microphone while bouncers watch, nonplussed.
It's tempting to say, in fact, that the brisk and petulant agit-punk of songs like "Killamangiro" and "Fuck Forever", is window-dressing to the experience of being in Doherty's singular presence. Yet, in truth, they're all part and parcel of the growing myth based around this vibrant and troubled character. Love or hate the fact, as he leads a dozen disciples in an orchestrated stage invasion, such myths are inexorably building towards some sort of musical legend.
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