The Libertines put two cold fingers up against the doubters last night in a storming show of panache and solidarity at the Forum in Kentish Town ahead of their headline support slot at Reading and Leeds festival this weekend.
The most anticipated reunion of the year kicked off after a long and restless wait that was absent of a support act, and which saw the crowd of rabid fans cheer whenever an engineer ventured onto the stage.
Finally, the crowd were put out of their misery at 9.30 as the flanking screens to the sides of the stage rolled down to the strains of wartime classic ‘We’ll Meet Again’. A montage of shots from the band’s glory days rolled by, a visual document of the love story between Pete Doherty and Carl Barât, as the adored foursome strolled into view.
Striking up with ‘Horrorshow’, Doherty kicks his frustration out on his mic before dashing to his fellow frontman’s stand in a move familiar to The Libertines of yesteryear.
The runaway train is off as the band rattle through song after song, clearly not in any mood for small talk in between.
Looking fit and trim in front of a humongous banner taken from ‘Up The Bracket’s artwork, the overall production of The Libertines is impressive, from their all black outfits to the impressive light show that is synced with every nuance of the music.
When ‘What Katie Did’, Doherty’s love letter to former flame Kate Moss is played, he lingers on the side of the stage with guitar in hand while Barât covers his bandmate’s vocals.
Classic ‘Can’t Stand Me Now’ sounds surprisingly flat, but perhaps fittingly so, as the vocalised battle between Pete and Carl is far in the distant past.
By the time set closers ‘Don’t Look Back into the Sun’ and ‘Time for Heroes’ are played, everyone is a delirious, sweaty mess. The band walk off to a deafening wall of feedback after just less than an hour onstage.
Noone budges an inch, and The Libertines finally come back on, cigarettes firmly planted in mouths, to play a long encore of eight songs, including ‘What Became of the Likely Lads’, Babyshambles’ ‘Lust of the Libertines’, ‘Up the Bracket’ and ‘What a Waster’.
They close with ‘I Get Along’, before Pete, looking overwhelmed, chucks his guitar at his amp, steps onto the monitor and salutes the venue of adoring fans, then marches to Carl to give him a big hug, to the delight of all and sundry.
Gary and John saunter over to get in on the act, embracing with looks of barely concealed joy plastered on their faces.
One thing’s for sure, those heading to Reading and Leeds this weekend are in for a treat…
The Setlist in Full…
Last Post on the Bugle
Tell the King
Boys in the Band
Music When The Lights Go Out
What Katie Did
Can’t Stand Me Now Death on the Stairs
The Ha Ha Wall
Don’t Look Back into the Sun
Time for Heroes
Campaign of Hate
What Became of the Likely Lads
Lust of the Libertines
The Good Old Days
Up The Bracket
What a Waster
I Get Along
Words by Laura Foster