I think it must be a given that any night spent with Mr Peter Doherty is going to be an interesting one, and seeing him live at the 02 Academy was no exception. It was a night spent surrounded by beer-ed up lager louts and crazed fan girls, and that’s not even mentioning what went on up there on the stage.
Peter is not conventional, so the decision to have a compere for the night was not an unexpected shock, but it did make for some painful viewing. If there was ever a crowd not to get riled it’s a Doherty one, they’re defensive to say the least. However this thought was left disregarded as a fellow strutted onto the stage to wax lyrical to the ever-increasing crowd. Jokes fell flat on their face as the act floundered (it must be telling that I can’t even remember the poor fellows name) and inevitably the crowd felt the wrath of the angered elder as he fired off insults left right and centre to a chorus of boos. When he left the stage to promise to return to bring on the support act, I was glad to be near the bar rather than facing the mutinous punters on the barrier.
There is also some level of expectations when it comes to Doherty’s support acts and this was no let down. On trooped a certain Alan Wass (anyone who knows the Doherty story will have heard all of Peter’s dalliances with Wass before, and if you haven’t I implore you to read Bound Together) attempting to become the next Bob Dylan. With acoustic guitar and harmonica in hand and tales of misplaced band members, Wass delighted the audience with material from Lipstick Melodies, clearly utilising the euphoria and excitement that the crowd had for the main event.
Taking to the stage only minutes late (which must be a record) Peter dazzled the audience playing up to every shout, scream and catcall, every bit the showman we’ve come to expect. Not leaving any stone unturned he played a mixture of Babyshambles and solo material, but the biggest reaction of the night came every time he dropped a Libertines track upon the crowds all-listening ears. Be it Can’t Stand Me Now or Albion, no matter which combination of bands and material he played, his ever-devoted fans sang every word at the tops of their lungs and danced like there was no tomorrow. And the crowd weren’t the only ones dancing. In true Peter style, during The Last Of The English Roses, his ballerina tag-alongs took to the stage and danced alongside the man himself, at this point seemingly so full of emotion at the crowd’s exuberance. Personally the bar was set by his fantastic rendition of What Katie Did, reminiscent of my experience watching it live last summer, and mournfully remembering that The Libertines will never perform it again. Breaking into The Beatles classic Twist And Shout to bring about the end of the evening, it quickly segues into a rapturous version of Time For Heroes and Albion, joined by the aforementioned Wass on harmonica. For tonight these disciples of Peter don’t care that in 3 days time he will be sentenced to 6 months in jail, tonight they wholeheartedly get the chance to worship and feel the love of their God. And as the beautiful cacophony of noise and the throng of bodies subsides, I may have missed my last Metro home and have to wait for a taxi, it crosses my mind that Peter’s pure talents as a showman, and of course the songs of a generation, makes that wait every bit worthwhile.