Carl Barât, Koko, London
Thursday 07 April 2011
Carl Barât's talent has often been superseded by his fame. His combustible relationship with the ever-newsworthy Pete Doherty is well-documented, and rumours continue to swirl about a possible Libertines reunion. Yet in the midst of the headlines, Barât has formed one half of the last decade's most memorable songwriting partnerships and fronted two of its more popular indie bands. Now, standing centre stage at Koko, the limelight shines solely on him, but what's unclear is how happy he is to embrace it alone.
Barât's predilection for the old school is instantly evident: he's surrounded by a 10-strong band, including a small brass section and a double bass, and channeling his inner James Dean with windswept hair and a leather jacket. However, the influence of the 1950s extends further than the surface; the band storm through throwback heartbreak tracks like "Je Regrette, Je Regrette" and "So Long, My Lover" with relish and aplomb.
Unsurprisingly, it's still the old favourites which get the biggest reaction from the crowd – The Libertines' unassailably brilliant "Don't Look Back into the Sun" nearly lifts the roof off Camden's esteemed venue. Were Barât to ignore his back-catalogue, he'd be criticised for not crowd-pleasing, but were he to play too much of it, he'd be accused of not having enough new material: it's a difficult balance, but one which Barât's set strikes well.
Yet the size of the band, as well as several cameos from Dirty Pretty Thing Didz Hammond, makes you wonder if Barât is more comfortable as part of a group than as a solo act. When he rips into the solo of "Bang Bang You're Dead" his skill as a lead guitarist is evident, but when he's asked to be a lone frontman he seems slightly less comfortable, despite his impressively emotive vocals.
Overall, Barât manages to remind us of his brilliance and his limitations all at once, producing a show which is heavy on endeavour but somewhat lighter on impact.
Glastonbury Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend will perform with Paul Weller as their warm-up act
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Qataris pledge to expand Canary Wharf
- 2 #JeSuisEd: People share photos of themselves eating awkwardly in solidarity with Labour leader
- 3 Women think Irish men are the sexiest, survey finds
- 4 Florida couple forced to register as sex offenders for having sex on public beach
- 5 Watch eerie drone footage of destroyed building in Stalingrad
Penny Dreadful, series 2 episode 1, review: It is still gloriously silly
Top Gear: Jodie Kidd, Philip Glenister and Guy Martin 'in advanced talks' to replace Jeremy Clarkson and co
Eurovision 2015: What date and time is the song contest and who are the favourites to win?
They came in with William Caxton's printing press, but typefaces still matter in the digital age
Fifty Shades of Grey movie shows first sex scene 'after 40 minutes'
In defence of liberal democracy
General Election 2015: Post-election 'shambles' looms as 70 per cent of voters say SNP 'should not be able to veto UK government policies'
The Rothschild Libel: Why has it taken 200 years for an anti-Semitic slur that emerged from the Battle of Waterloo to be dismissed?
General Election 2015: UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power, Labour warns
General election live: SNP suspends two members for disrupting Labour rally
General Election 2015: Sturgeon claims Scots 'appalled' by Ed Miliband's refusal to work with SNP