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Carl Barât's talent has often been superseded by his fame.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.
film Sex scene trailer sees a shirtless Jamie Dornan turn up the heat
Maisie Williams single-handedly rises to the challengeTV
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Woman falls to her death as she celebrates marriage proposal at the edge of Ibiza cliff
- 2 Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
- 3 Ball pool for adults opens in London
- 4 Baldness could soon be treated using stem cells, scientists hope
- 5 Amal Clooney gives excellent response to fashion question at European Court of Human Rights
The Jump 2015 line-up: Joey Essex, Mike Tindall, Jodie Kidd and co take to the slopes
Game of Thrones, season 5: Grey Worm actor Jacob Anderson is all for more male nudity – as long as he can keep his clothes on
Martin Scorsese 'in shock' after death on set of new film Silence
Game of Thrones season 5 trailer: The first full-length look is here
Sia apologises for 'Elastic Heart' music video that sees Shia LaBeouf wrestle 12-year-old Maddie Ziegler
9 reasons Greece's experiment with the radical left is doomed to failure
'We would evict Queen from Buckingham Palace and allocate her council house,' say Greens
Have we reached 'peak food'? Shortages loom as global production rates slow
Greece elections: Syriza and EU on collision course after election win for left-wing party
British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford faces execution by firing squad in Indonesia
Liberal Democrat minister defends comments suggesting immigration causes pub closures