Gig Review by Devinder Bains with Gig Photography by Mark Field

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The Libertines were back on form for a reunion gig that saw a set list of 24 classics, numerous stops for dangerous crowd crushes and various displays of Doherty/Barat love-ins. The day’s line-up (over six stages) was a throwback to the band’s heydey, with sets from the likes of The Enemy, The Rifles and Maximo Park, and the general vibe of the day was one of late 90’s, early 2000’s indie, think Liam Gallagher-style hair dos and parkers galore.

Slaves

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Amongst the indie veterans, an array of new bands graced the stages earlier in the day. My first stop was Slaves at 2pm at the Village Hall stage. The two-piece from Kent, are singer and drummer, Isaac Holman, 22 and guitarist Laurie Vincent, 21 who signed to Virgin EMI records in March this year. The pair had the crowd pumped from the minute they walked into the tent to sound check, you got the feeling this was going to be something exciting. Once the band kicked off their large group of mates at the front, were joined by a crowd of about 100 revellers, who’d walked past and heard the immense noise filling the small tent. The songs were short, high-octane punk, and very loud, especially considering it’s just two of them. The highly charged crowd raised the temperature of the tent and by song three, the crowd-pleasing, ‘Where’s your Car Debbie?’ Holman was unbuttoning his shirt. By the end of the song, both band members were topless – a common occurrence at their gigs. The crowd didn’t lose any of their enthusiasm during the 30-minute set and it was hard not to join the hype as the boys bashed out track after track. There’s something raw and dirty about their sound that gives you the feeling it’s all about to kick off for them, it’s the same feeling I had when The Libertines first hit the scene, making this band the perfect start to the day.

The Enemy

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I then made a quick run over to the Main Stage to catch Coventry’s finest, The Enemy. They started proceedings with ‘Had Enough’ and the crowd instantly hit overdrive, with beers flying, a mass push forward and terrace like chanting, that had even lead singer Tom Clarke looking pretty shocked. At the end of the song he pointed out that there were ’about 50 Scottish lads who have already kicked off – fair play.’ He went on to dedicate the next song to them – driving them even wilder. This crowd would set the scene for the rest of the line-up – one filled with aggressive singing and pushing, that would call for multiple stops during play throughout the day. The band picked up their tempo, feeding off the hyped audience as they belted out classics: ‘No Time for Tears’, ‘Happy Birthday Jane’, ‘We’ll Live and Die in these Towns’ and ‘Away From Here’. During the band’s ‘Be Somebody’ extra security were called out as fans threw colourful flares and even shoes towards the stage. This was one hell of a sing-a-long, reminiscent of when the band were having number one singles and albums, this was their crowd from back then and like me, they were loving every minute.

Maximo Park

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Next on stage were indie rockers, Maximo Park. Despite not being a huge fan of the band I have seen them live a few times and front man, Paul Smith, knows how to put on a show. Once the crowd had warmed up again…everyone clearly needed a breather after The Enemy, they yelled along to classics like ‘Our Velocity’ and ‘Apply Some Pressure’. A suited and booted Smith, complete with his trademark hat, gave it everything on stage and the audience responded, even though it felt like this wasn’t really their crowd.

The Rifles

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Leaving the Main Stage, I made my way towards The Rifles on the Summer Stage, which was basically a glorified bandstand. And it seemed everyone had the same idea, which lead to more crowd issues. Despite thousands gathering around this tiniest of stages the atmosphere was friendly as everyone sang along to the wonderful ditties of the Chingford band. I managed to sneak to the front by falling in behind the extra security that had been called in to manage the front rows. The band laughed and smiled their way through favourites like: ‘She’s Got Standards’, ‘One Night Stand’ and ‘Romeo and Julie’, as flares, beer bottles and even a hat and a hoodie hit the floor around them. The atmosphere was electric as endless moshers toppled into the tiny pit in front of the band, screaming for joy as they exited. The bookers had got this one wrong, a band like The Rifles would easily have commanded the Main Stage but if you were lucky enough to actually see them – this was one of the best gigs I’ve seen them play – and I’ve seen them a fair bit! I spotted lead singer Joel Stoker at the VIP bar after the set and he was still on a high, telling me: “I was a bit unsure when I realised that we were playing, well a tiny bandstand, but it actually worked out brilliantly. It was great, the crowd still turned up and gave it everything…and what’s with the flares – that’s new!” He went on to say he was looking forward to seeing The Libertines as he’d never seen them perform before: “We’ve played with Pete and Carl’s bands separately but The Libertines were kind of done before The Rifles hit the scene, so it should be good, I’m interested to see what it’s all about.”

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Next on the list were Birmingham based, indie popstars, Swim Deep, followed by Blur man, Graham Coxon, both playing on the Barclaycard Theatre. But technical faults and health and safety issues meant the venue had to be closed down for the rest of the day, a shame for the acts and fans alike.

The Pogues

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After waiting around for a while to see if things would be fixed (Swim Deep went on to do a small set on the stage next door), I cut my losses and ran over to see The Pogues. I was met by a rather dapper Shane MacGowan, despite looking deathly pale and receiving a barrage of twitter abuse for appearing drunk and ill, I thought the lead-singer looked healthier than he has done in years! The crowd, were up for this merry sing-a-long even if most, like me, could barely make out the words that MacGowan was slurring.

The Libertines

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And as the sun started to set and the crowds closed in even tighter, it was time for the main event. The set kicked off with videos of the band from years gone by. From what was a happier time for the relationship of lead singers Pete Doherty and Carl Barat and indeed drummer Gary Powell and base player John Hassall, who played the show amongst rumours of not being happy with the percentage they were being paid. But none of that mattered when The Libertines walked onto the stage… looking united, Carl wearing one of the band’s famous red, Welsh Guards-style, jackets and Pete sporting a few grey hairs! They kicked off with ‘Vertigo’ and the hardcore fans lost it, yelling the lyrics while pushing forward, crushing much of the front row against the barriers. As they quickly moved on to ‘Boys in the Band’, flares, and beer throwing joined the pushing and it all got too much for security, who stopped the song twice, to pull people out of the crowd. Hassall pointed out someone who was unconscious and the whole band begged the crowd to move back and calm down.

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The Libertines have always been about chaos and extremes, and it seemed so strange to hear the boys asking for calm, it was a sign that things must have been pretty scary right at the front. Once some level of calm was achieved the band continued with ‘Delaney’, ‘Campaign of Hate’ and ‘Time for Heroes’, which again had to be stopped. The songs were belted out in front of various backdrops, including videos, a sailor tattoo-style wallpaper and a deep red camera film effect for ‘Horror Show’. They went on to sing one short snappy ditty after another, looking in good spirits as they sang through the same mic, hugged throughout the show and even rolling around on the floor together at one point. They played a long list of favourites, the crowd singing every word to ‘Can’t Stand Me Now’, ‘Last Post on The Bugle’, ‘What a Waster’ and ‘What Katie Did’ stopping again during ‘France’ to urge fans to stop climbing the speaker towers with Carl saying they ‘had loads more songs to do yet’. They followed it with Pete and Carl singing ‘Albion’ by Babyshambles and finishing the 24-song set with ‘I Get Along’.

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As fans started to leave to avoid the crush for the tube, Pete and Carl got the crowd to sing ‘The Hokey Cokey’ and then recited war poem ‘Suicide in the Trenches’ paying tribute to the heroes of World War One as well as Pete’s beloved QPR. The show was a huge success for the band, the dangerous crushes aside, it showed that the band are as popular as ever, that their amazing songwriting has endured the test of time and their hardcore fans would do anything to see Carl and Pete produce more material together… even though most know this will probably never happen. The gig, and the whole day, was a trip down memory lane for the bands and fans alike, a trip to a place where the music was so good it made you throw away your beers (they were less expensive then), a time when an Adidas zippy or a military jacket was a must and it was so easy to lose yourself to all the many boys in the bands.

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One Response to “The Libertines + The Pogues + Maximo Park + The Rifles + The Enemy + Slaves at Barclaycard British Summer Time, Hyde park, London, UK – 5th July 2014”

  1. Gig Reviews | Gig Photography | Interviews | Competitions from Gig Junkies » Blog Archive » The Libertines at Alexandra Palace, London, UK – 28th September 2014 Says:

    […] So it is more than quite remarkable that these guys have survived to 2014, dabbling with Hyde Park over the summer and now to a trio of dates at the Ally Pally. Welcome tonight to the band who few […]

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