There were crowd crushes, there were flares, there were naked guys climbing up towers and there were bloody noses. But aside from all the ominous scenes and injured gig goers that have dogged the headlines since Saturday, The Libertines at Hyde Park was a much needed injection of much-missed rock and roll. Heading down with a group of mates who I bowled around at house parties singing What A Waster with a decade ago, we were well up for a reminisce and a stomp to some class tunes from Pete, Carl and co.
An ending fitting for the start
you twist and tore our love apart
I hadn't been that excited about it to be honest. The last time I saw Pete Doherty was at a Babyshambles gig at the Kentish Town Forum in 2004 where three songs in - and almost three hours late - he predictably threw himself into the crowd and that was it. Early night for all. Also, when I heard that he was burying the hatchet with Carl Barat for basically loads of cold hard cash, it dampened any desire to go and support them. It felt corporate and mainstream and, well, Hyde Park. But as the gig drew closer there was a buzz going on and I bagged a ticket, thinking it would be a great summer day out on the piss if nothing else.
One summer evening drunk to hell
I stood there nearly lifeless
We got there in time for The Pogues, having sacked off the earlier nondescript whale music bands and screeched along with Shane MacGowan. I didn't realise it at the time but it looks as though last Saturday was the Irish legends' last gig which is well sad but having seen them each Christmas for the last couple of years, not massively surprising. Give that man a rest! I'm glad we gave it all we could for shuffling Shane and sang their hard-to-know-whether-to-go-high-or-low ditties such as A Pair Of Brown Eyes as loud as we could. Shane MacGowan, what a fucking hero.
A few pints later, confusing attempts to meet the friends we'd already managed to lose, some almost arguments that quickly collapsed into drunken embraces, and you wouldn't be wrong to say my man and me were in a suitably pissed state by the time the drums of Vertigo started up. Heading fast to get as close as we could to the front, the sun was starting to fade and I felt the hairs on my neck stand up.
Koreema know just what it is she does
It cant be hard for her to get a buzz
Suddenly, as the crowd went mental (too mental actually, but we've heard all about that), I remembered how good the Libertines were back when I was at uni and how electric the combination of Doherty and Barat is when put together, with or without smack.
They were as tight as ever, smashing out tune after tune with 60,000 people slurring along. We were giving them the warmest welcome back, especially to Pete Doherty who despite still being a bit yellow, was on the best form since well, ever, probably. Greying hair, smart clothes (omitting the dodgy dog chain) he looked the healthiest he has done in years and he was just very very present. Carl Barat looked in love with his old friend, going over and patting him on the back or hugging him close in between songs. Pete even became the voice of reason and took to the mic to try and solve the crowd crush telling people to "take a step back, take a step baaaaack." They stopped playing twice to try and calm the scary situation and get people to stop climbing towers naked (Libertines fans are fans of liberty!) I was astonished; in 2004 Pete Doherty was diving into the crowd, oblivious, and completely fucked.
Oh, I was carried away
Caught up in an affray
as they led him away, he sang
we'll meet again some day
oh my boy, theres a price to pay
The best thing about it though, was that Pete's apparent return to reality didn't dampen the spirit or the impact of the gig - it actually improved it. The impeccable songwriting stands the test of time and the swirling guitars and heart-bursting drums concoct a heady mix that swishes up nicely with five pints. As the start of Can't Stand Me Now stirred up half way through the night when the sky was now black, I got fed up of the VIP toe-tappers stood nearby and weaved further in to the front where everyone was having it, dragging my man for a riot, an adventure. What a moment. In love, in music, in a pit of people squished up and delirious. We jumped and barged and felt elated and intoxicated and all I could think about was how good it felt. Rock and roll, where did it go? The gig was for money, in a royal London park, surrounded with VIP tents and overpriced burgers, but as soon as the lights were up for the 24-song set, only fools could think that this would keep us from smashing it as hard as we did 12 years ago. What will become of the likely lads? There's two more gigs in September and talk of a new album. Based on Pete and Carl's explosive history, I'm not holding out on any of this actually coming together, but I'll say cheers to it all the same.
The world is nigh
I'm glad to see we're still tight
the bonds that tie a man are tight
yet we do what we do
all through the night
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