The Libertines: Freedom Gig, Tap'n'Tin, Chatham, Kent

A celebration of music, life and liberty
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The Independent Culture

The crowd in the very packed Tap'n'Tin in Chatham had expected just a single Libertine - Pete Doherty, fresh out of prison after burgling fellow Libertine Carl Barât's house. But then the missing three-quarters of the band, John Hassall, Gary Powell, and Barât appeared. Suddenly the audience realised that this could be a Libertines gig after all, and the girls started screaming. The band could then have played anything at all and the crowd would have loved it. But they went on to play perhaps the most emotionally-charged celebration of music and happiness of their lives.

Before the first chord was struck, the four hugged to the sound of even more screaming. Their first song, "Seven Deadly Sins", had Doherty coming across as a bit ring-rusty, but that changed quickly and by the fourth, "Don't Look Back into the Sun", the band were dancing in circles with their guitars. If the Libertines were ever thought to be angry young men, that idea was swept away by their utter joy. And if the friendship between Doherty and Barât was not already plain, then their near-kisses as they fought for the microphone made it obvious.

Though the microphones weren't brilliant and the sound system unhelpful, The Libertines reunited could not bring themselves to stop playing. Drummer Powell (who had arrived without drumsticks, determined to stick to his intention not to play) was grinning through the sweat, Barât was stripped to the waist, and the ex-prisoner looked as if life on the outside was not that bad at all. The band even played a new song, with harmonies á la the 2000 model Libertines. Perhaps they would still have been playing now, had Barât not fallen onto the edge of the stage. The gig came to an end when he went to hospital for stitches.

So: will they re-group? Will their new-found friendship last? And, crucially: will the band make another album, and continue where Up the Bracket left off? This gig did not provide the answers, but it did suggest that answers might be forthcoming very soon.