Intimate and acoustic, Peter Doherty returns to Camden with a bang, proving that his cemented status as the poetic troublemaker of the twenty first century is here to stay.
Yes he may live in France and co-own a hotel in Kent, but Peter Doherty’s musical home will always be Camden Town. And for Saturday and Sunday, the newly rebranded PowerHaus (formerly Dingwalls) in the heart of Camden market played host to the iconic Libertines troubadour.
Pete’s first entrance on stage wasn’t for his own set though, but rather, dressed in his usual combination of braces and hat, to introduce his pal Jack Jones of Trampolene to the stage. After a set of Trampolene songs and poems, Jack then managed to lure Pete out of the shadows again to duet on ‘Paradise Is Under Your Nose’ from their latest album as Peter Doherty and the Puta Madres. Typically, this ended with both men staring into each other’s eyes while sharing the microphone, as is customary at any Libertines gig with Pete and Carl at the helm.
Given the low capacity venue, this was always going to be an intimate affair. And even though Pete was backed only by his own acoustic guitar, he made sure the usual energy of a Libertines gig wasn’t lost right from the start with common set-closer ‘Don’t Look Back Into The Sun’ acting, unusually, as the set-opener. As expected, the crowd followed suit, jumping and singing along to every line. Following up such a classic song is always going to be a difficult task – so how did Pete handle it? Simply by playing the Libertines’ next most famous song in ‘Can’t Stand Me Now’, maintaining the crowds energy and affection.
After another Libertines classic in ‘The Boy Looked At Johnny’, Pete moved onto his solo repertoire. Unlike with some artists, this didn’t mean any less love from those in attendance, as Pete’s magnetism that makes him so unique was so clearly displayed with everyone from the front to the back joining arms to sing ‘Arcady’ before the rallying call to arms of ‘Hell to Pay at the Gates of Heaven’.
Only at the very first chord of ‘Time for Heroes’ though did the gig turn into one of those special and chaotic moments that seemingly only Peter can create. Even with only an acoustic guitar, mosh pits formed, crowd-surfers arose, and pints of (hopefully) beer flew in the air. It was at this moment that the security in PowerHaus had to kick into motion as the barrier at the front gave way, reminiscent of the infamous Libertines reunion show at Hyde Park in 2014.
Perhaps as a way to calm the crowd that seemed at risk of boiling over, the set moved onto some of the more poetic songs in Pete’s catalogue. ‘Sheepskin Tearaway’, with its fiddly guitar parts, brought almost-silence to the crowd watching on intensely at their idols inimitable guitar playing. The silence didn’t last long though, as an emotional ‘You’re My Waterloo’ sparked one of the biggest singalongs of the night in the heart of Camden Market’s famous venue.
A fast-paced rendition of ‘Horrowshow’ soon kicked the sweaty mass of people at the front back into life, leading to the security having to ask people to move back for fear of those at the very front being squashed… only at a Pete gig.
With guitar sound problems, ‘What A Waster’ brought about an acapella singalong between Doherty and his dedicated following who, as always, were there to support him through the good and the bad.
Of course, The Libertines are not the only successful band of Pete’s. Both ‘Killamangiro’ and ‘Albion’ acted as reminders of the commonly underrated Babyshambles, although seemingly no one in PowerHaus on Saturday would dare underrate them. A rightfully shambolic ‘Albion’ was followed by its sibling song in ‘Music When The Lights Go Out’ as the crowd swayed in unison and sang at their loudest. Despite much cheering and stamping as Pete left the stage, this was to be the end of the set; but what a set, and what a return to live music it was.
Peter Doherty might be getting older and his songs more obscure from the ordinary man, but there’s no denying that he and his fans have an unbreakable respect and love for eachother – something few artists have achieved before or since.
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