PD-15

To many, Pete Doherty is just a pasty face on a magazine cover, a waster and symbol of hedonistic excess. But to some, he is a genuine role-model, talented songwriter and leader of the school of indie-cool that spawned so many pointy-shoe wearing copycats. Luckily for Pete, or Peter as his new album would have us believe, the majority of people streaming into the Birmingham Academy tonight agreed with the latter, eagerly awaiting their scruffy, shambolic idol.

Charged with entertaining Pete’s loyal following tonight were a whole raft of support acts. Young indie-ska group RedRoots were first up, bringing funky bassist dancing, soulful reggae-tinged tunes and more than a few guitar tricks learned from a certain Mr Barat of Libertines infamy. They settled into their set quickly and seemed to have some decent danceable tracks, but perhaps not enough to stand out from the crowd.

PD-26PD-14

The increasingly restless mob were kept waiting longer by an acoustic interlude. The name of the first strummer escaped me, which is probably a good thing for him after a dreadful day at the office. Halfway through his first tune, which was pretty lifeless in any case, he was interrupted by Pete appearing on the balcony like the Pope or a pantomime villain to watch. The crowd immediately lost interest in the stage, screaming towards the trilby-toting troubadour. The put-out poet then petulantly completed his three-song set, and left in a huff.

He was followed by Babyshambles bassist Drew McConnell who faired much better, starting with a rhythmic Spanish number before bringing out Red Roots’ bassist for another. More from Drew certainly wouldn’t have been unwelcome, but next it was Scouse duo Hey Tourists!, who were a little too shrill and two-dimensional to be enjoyable.

PD-24

Finally, after the pared down interlude, the stage was set for the main event. A fleet of guitar amps, a bass amp draped in the union flag, a string section and a double bass boded well, but no one could have expected what was to come. As Pete shuffled into view the place erupted, and the suited and booted ex-Libertine kicked off with an acoustic take on old favourite ‘Music When the Lights Go Out’ as the crowd threw handfuls of fags onstage for their hero. But the biggest surprise, so far at least, was the introduction of bespectacled Blur guitarist Graham Coxon.

I couldn’t believe my luck as the pair joined forces for folky new number ‘Arcady’, my hopes for the night ahead lifting immeasurably as it built into a thumping clap-along. A slew of other tracks from new solo album Grace/Wastelands followed including ‘Last of the English Roses’, ‘1939 Returning’, ‘A Little Death Around the Eyes’ and ‘Salome’. Coxon showed his worth on ‘Palace of Bone’, whipping out his slide for a country workout culminating in a raucous finish.

PD-4PD-27

Doherty was certainly on form, showing little sign of his erratic and troubled past, except of course from his mumbling, stumbling demeanour that has become his trademark. Those days were not forgotten however, as his band left him to strum through a trio of Libertines classics, ‘What a Waster’, ‘What Katie Did’ and ‘Can’t Stand Me Now’, which more than most showed that the Carl Barat-shaped hole was much smaller than anyone could have predicted after the band split.

Joined onstage by John from Hey Tourists!, Pete sang dark nursery rhyme ‘I am the Rain’ before the next biggest shock of the evening. “You don’t know how lucky you lot are tonight,” Pete insisted, and for most in the room that was probably true as Lee Mavers from Mersey legends The La’s strolled on to perform ‘Son of a Gun’ with the band. At this point I was wondering what else Pete could possibly have up his sleeve.

PD-2

He finished the set with big, angry epic ‘Broken Love Song’, Babyshambles song ‘Albion’ and early Libertines tune ‘Bucket Shop’ before playing his final ace; leaving the stage to Lee Mavers once again, who rolled out classic La’s hit ‘There She Goes’ live for the first time in four years. An encore of ‘Time for Heroes’ and nihilistic anthem ‘Fuck Forever’, which saw Pete climbing into the drum kit, topped what was a superb return to form and an extremely generous offering to the rowdy audience. I just hope they realised how lucky they really were tonight.

Review: Ian Ravenscroft
Photos – Steve Gerrard

Peter Doherty’s Set

1. Music When the Lights Go Out
2. Arcady
3. Last of the English Roses
4. 1939 Returning
5. A Little Death Around the Eyes
6. Salome
7. Palace of Bone
8. What a Waster
9. What Katie Did
10. Can’t Stand Me Now
11. I am the Rain
12. Son of a Gun (w/ Lee Mavers)
13. Lady Don’t You Fall Backwards.
14. Sweet By and By
15. New Love Grows on Trees
16. Broken Love Song
17. Albion

Encore
18. Bucket Shop
19. There She Goes (Lee Mavers)
20. Time for Heroes
21. Beg Steal or Borrow
22. Fuck Forever

Leave a Reply