Babyshambles, The Brickyard, Carlisle
Thursday 22 September 2005
Doherty's personal catalogue of misdemeanours have been well documented across the media, but, for the sake of review, they bear repeating. Even neglecting the fact that his first band, The Libertines, was the last gang in town for a year, there's still the self-affirmed heroin problem, the stormy affair with Kate Moss, and numerous public spats and fracas to take into account.
Reading such a litany of hell-raising leaves you in no doubt as to where his fans' approval. Those young enough not to know any better look at the fast-paced, dangerous life he appears to lead and aspire towards such edgy glamour. 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 respect for rock'n'roll's lineage, the crowd's furious rendition of the song that introduced him on stage, The Who's "My Generation", defined the atmosphere. Youth and energy, and petulant, misdirected defiance were the order of the evening.
A sweaty antechamber in the somewhat provincial environs of Carlisle on a Tuesday might be a strange place for a definitively cosmopolitan Doherty and his band Babyshambles to commence this rescheduled 13-date national tour, but it may as well have been a Saturday night in Camden for the welcome afforded him. And, given his reputation for non-appearances, Doherty saw fit to reward his acolytes with a lucid performance, albeit one still mingled with eccentric chatter and louche arrogance.
Strolling on in a smart suit jacket ripped from waist to shoulder blade up the back seam, he proceeds to strip down to his bare chest, taking time to swing a tape measure proffered from the crowd around his head and pass stage invaders the microphone.
It's tempting to say that the brisk agit-punk of songs such as "Killamangiro" are mere window-dressing to the experience of being in Doherty's singular presence. Yet, in truth, they're all part of the growing myth. Love or hate it, as he willingly leads a dozen disciples in an orchestrated stage invasion, such myths are inevitably building towards some sort of musical legend.
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