WHAT could be more exciting for The Libertines’ ardent (and very tolerant) fanbase than to catch their favourite band live in the days leading up to the release of their first album in ten years? Only to catch them live at a “club show” (in a 2,500 capacity “club”) which had just been announced days before.
In their early years, The Libertines were masters of the pop-up guerilla gig, commandeering fans’ living rooms, car parks or their local boozer for impromptu performances.
More than a decade on, when other bands in their influential position would have become a slick, maybe even soulless operation, The Libertines continue to operate on the point of collapse, giving their every utterance a sweaty urgency.
Urgency was certainly the watchword at this show which was perpetually on the verge of careering out of control.
The setlist consistently favoured their punkier side and, despite ostensibly being a launchpad for new album Anthems for Doomed Youth, featured relatively few of their new tracks.
The reggae-ish Gunga Din and low-slung Cockney swagger of Fame and Fortune were greeted like old friends, or perhaps this was simply the stock response to seeing Pete Doherty and Carl Barat assume their rightful stage positions, clustered round the one microphone when they have three to choose from.
Doherty continued to wrangle his guitar like he was taking a drunken swing at fresh air.
Barat, meanwhile, convinced as the louche indie crooner on What Katie Did, and there was an unexpected drum solo from the band’s bare-chested rock Gary Powell in the run-up to Begging.
They were late arriving – so late that the lusty terrace chanting of the audience was starting to give way to booing - and pushed the venue curfew mercilessly with that mix of dog-eared charm and belligerence which characterizes their music.
Now in their mid-30s, there is still no taming The Libertines. Deal with it.
Rating: * * * *