The Libertines

Brighton Centre - 26th November 2021
“What a waster, what a fucking waster, you pissed it all up the wall ...” As the opening bars of The Libertines’ first single ring out across a heaving Brighton Centre, the whole situation appears more than a little bizarre. It wasn’t long ago you would have bet your house on the band never performing again as their first recorded words had rebounded on them and their star had sunk seemingly without trace. Yet, standing here were the four men who saved alternative music so many years ago, looking fine and dandy and sounding as vital as they ever had been.

We suppose that if your star shines particularly brightly, then it can be found even in the murkiest depths and, let’s face it, nobody’s star shone as brightly as The Libertines’ in the opening years of the new millennium. Britpop had dragged the underground back into the mainstream and, as it does, the mainstream moved on. The kids went with it and the beautiful world of the alternative virtually ceased to exist overnight; the sub-culture which had been our lifeblood for twenty years appeared to be no more. We were lost in a sea of make-do and sham; pretending that crap from over the Atlantic was somehow infused with vitality and soul, but knowing all the time it was a lie. Then The Libertines saved our lives. God, here were the boys who refused to lie down. Their music was infused with poetry, wit, jumbled melodies, danger and romance. They were everything that had been lost returned to us in one slightly soiled package and it was glorious. A few articles recently have stated that The Libertines were an extension of Britpop. Anybody who believes that should be locked up for their own safety. The Libs were as far from Britpop as your brain is to Uranus. This was rebirth.

In Brighton literally thousands of people are moving. Half of them probaby weren’t born when ‘What A Waster’ was first released into the community, and it brings a tear to the eye. As Pete Doherty and Carl Barat merge into one to expound their manifesto, every word is chanted back at them. It’s touching and incredibly powerful; this is a band that reaches people, and a band that matters to the people. And a band in such good form. Doherty and Barat are four halves of two wholes, interchanging vocals, borrowing guitar breaks from each other, always challenging the other and complementing their work. John Hassall doesn’t look out of sorts two days on from his Covid break. He doesn’t move much which is understandable but injects solidity into his bandmates’ sparring. Gary Powell is a rock and he appears to be having the time of his life. There’s positivity emanating from every corner of the stage and radiating through the packed house.

It’s a monster of a set, virtually every song the band has recorded thrown into the mix and tossed right back at them by the crowd. Of course there are highs and lows. Not everything they touch turns to gold, but their best offerings are the purest. ‘Time For Heroes’ comes at the end, possibly the most important song of this century, a massive two fingers up at everybody and everything that conforms and cannot understand. The Libertines were a gang when our gangs had been dispersed; they were our mates when our mates had gone missing. And as the Brighton Centre rocks it’s impossible not to feel the love. They’re not in a class of their own, but in a class of our own. And that is where it begins and ends. Through hell and high water, twenty years down the line the Libs are rocking through Albion. And all is well.


Latest Reviews
Facebook Link
Isolation Home