hmv.com reviews... The Libertines @ British Summer Time
Now onto their second major reformation, The Libertines made their grand comeback at Hyde Park on Saturday night (July 5th) and we were there to review it all...
The Libertines. Indie chancers, onto their second major reformation.
British Summer Time Festival, Hyde Park
Tell us about the supporting cast?
Throughout the support bands, things seemed to build up, slow down, and pick up again in quality. First came Maximo Park, who got the crowd whipped up with a great deal of excitement and energy, but seemed to be nothing but outwardly flat, their set resulting in a nonchalantly driven and specific scene-enticing hour of half-hearted head bopping.
While not a negative aspect as far as festival slots go, their predictably anthemic rhythms and chant-along choruses painted them in something of an overdone monolithic light - endurable with excitement for bands to follow, but otherwise, simply forgettable.
Now, where the following band Spiritualized were concerned, things couldn’t have been different. Although Jason Pierce traditional kept entirely disengaged with his audience, the same brand of no-nonsense engulfed his tracks in even deeper meaning - each element from the well-chosen backing vocalists to his very own ever-passionate guitar playing making for an overwhelmingly beautiful mid-afternoon experience.
Was it full? And how were the crowd?
Although the crowd were very much segregated throughout the support bands - some heading to the bar, some watching, some checking out the burger prices - by the time The Libertines arrived, almost everyone who paid for a ticket seemed to be crammed as far as they possibly could to the front. Co-frontmen, the ever controversial and always watchable Pete Doherty, and his far more sturdy colleague Carl Barat, were forced no less than three times to delay their continuation of the performance as things became dangerous down front - the forward-crushing of the crowd responsible for the fainting of the most vulnerably compact. Nevertheless the atmosphere was on the whole incredible; everyone clearly wanted to savour every last moment.
So what was the set like? What did they play?
The ‘Boys in the Band’, while reassembling after yet another break up, seemed as strong as always - a special kind of chemistry between frontmen Pete and Carl coming across in not only their on-stage eye contact but musically too. Beginning with ‘Vertigo’, ending with ‘I Get Along’, the tracks in between were similar to an unsteady heartbeat where crowd reaction was concerned - just when you thought things may have mellowed out a bit, lo and behold, the irresistibly riot-inducing ‘Time For Heroes’ kicks in like Bruce Lee on a coffee binge. Twenty-four tracks long, The Libertines’ set also included the beautiful Babyshambles song ‘Albion’ - a nice touch towards the end of a very well-balanced selection of songs from both of The Libertines’ studio albums. Hearing the songs in a live atmosphere was even more of a moment of pure clarity than anticipated.
Any good between song banter?
Throughout the central bulk of the set, joking with the crowd was almost completely thrown off the cards given the near-casualties in the front of the crowd, but towards the end of the set, infamous wise-cracker Pete Doherty threw in a bit of jest with a story involving his camper van and opposition to an idea of a Union Jack dressing the roof. Generally, The Libertines engaged with their crowd in a warm and appreciative fashion, seemingly genuinely happy to be there and see all of the obvious enthusiasm.
Did they put on much of a show?
The stage effects were soaked in nostalgia - collages of the band in their early years, lovingly crafted vignettes of the friends backstage fooling around, and of course, up-close and personal footage on three screens of the very performance we were witnessing. It all amalgamated in a perfect formation of exactly what would stimulate the fans visually to the fullest extent.
What was the highlight of the set?
It’s hard to pick one highlight out of such a fantastic set, so I’ll select songs nine to twelve: ‘Music When the Lights Go Out’, ‘What Katie Did’, ‘The Boy Looked at Johnny’, and ‘Can’t Stand Me Now’. These four tracks were an unbelievably great run - excellently crafted in a live atmosphere at the peak of the set, the crowd’s atmosphere undoubtedly at its most ecstatic - which is saying quite a lot.
Where can I catch them next?
As far as London is concerned, The Libertines revealed at their Hyde Park show scheduled dates at Alexandra Palace on the 27th and 28th September this year. There are also certain European tour dates, and rumours of gigs in Glasgow. Keep watch.