Passions: Why my music nostalgia doesn't stand the test of time but still feels perfect

I can revisit my youth via a Libertines gig, but nostalgia costs £50 a pop
Pete Doherty (left) and Carl Barat of The Libertines PIC: Andy Buchanan/AFP via Getty ImagesPete Doherty (left) and Carl Barat of The Libertines PIC: Andy Buchanan/AFP via Getty Images
Pete Doherty (left) and Carl Barat of The Libertines PIC: Andy Buchanan/AFP via Getty Images

The classics are classic for a reason. At the tender age of 74, Bruce Springsteen still has stadium crowds eating out of the palm of his hand. Fleetwood Mac star Stevie Nicks is due to play Glasgow’s Hydro this summer.

And, though I look back with a warm heart and an even warmer pint, I have to admit that my musical heyday hasn’t aged quite so well.

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The year was 2001 and Britpop was on its way out. Enter indie sleaze. Making its way across the Atlantic, bands like The Strokes and White Stripes found audiences in Camden dive bars. We had our own homegrown efforts too, my favourites were The Libertines.

It makes me feel slightly queasy to think this happened more than 20 years ago - it could have been yesterday.

Though I still like current music and attend plenty of gigs, nothing quite feels like mine quite like the early days of indie and garage rock music. I was so invested in it.

The Libertines burned fast and bright the first time around. Releasing two albums over four years, Pete Doherty and Carl Barat’s reunion has lasted considerably longer than they ever did originally. The music was exciting and the gigs were chaotic. It was part of the lure, you didn’t know what I was going to get by showing up to one of their gigs. I once went to a Libertines gig posted on an online message board by a member of the band. It was at some guy’s flat and it was a tenner at the door to get in. Legal? Almost certainly not. A great gig? Not at all, but it was a hell of a lot of fun.

Decades later – and it does pain me to write that – The Libertines are continuing to cash in on all that affection they had back then, along with some very average-sounding side projects that I also obsessed over. It doesn’t cost a tenner on the door of a dingy east end flat – it costs £50 at the Barrowlands.

I can’t say that era of music has aged particularly well and it’s unlikely that younger generations will give a(n Arctic) monkeys about them. The real legacy is for those of us that were there at the start and are still there in spirit, reminiscing about the chaos.

David Bol is Deputy Political Editor of The Scotsman



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