Pete Doherty at the ForumCultureMusicLive music
Pete Doherty turned the Kentish Town Forum inside out last night, backed by his latest band the Puta Madres and Jack Jones, critically acclaimed young poet and lead of British alt-rock band Trampolene, on sloppy lead guitar, having preceded the show with some of his spoken-word poetry as part of the opening act. Showing up a tame half-hour late, the singer-songwriter took a riotously eager crowd by surprise when he finally swaggered his way to center stage.
The five-piece supported the frontman through a hefty setlist composed mostly of tracks off his most recent solo album, Hamburg Demonstrations. The Libertines’ You’re My Waterloo evoked a piercing scream from the audience when Carl Barât appeared out of nowhere with a killer guitar solo – and then the show really took off. Pete Doherty successfully dragged both bandmates and listeners into his fun delirium. He flailed, he wrecked, he drank, he slurred; most of all, he delivered.
Although Doherty and Jones maintained the illusion of utter carelessness, (stumbling drunkenly over both rhythm and solo guitar parts in Kolly Kibber among others) it was soon clear that the outrageous frontmen weren’t simply having a laugh. The band fed voraciously off the audience’s raw, pent-up energy and vice versa – plastic cups and jackets soared through the air over euphoric crowd surfers; Doherty’s microphone swung dangerously over his head as he threw anything he could (and some things he probably shouldn’t) into the cheering mass; guitars flew irresponsibly.
A technician had the misfortune to run onstage during a particularly chilling dynamic swell in Oily Boker, inciting the frontman to kick him aggressively. The fast-paced fan-favourites Killamangiro and Fuck Forever almost uprooted the venue with moshing and jumping, bringing the night’s catharsis to a peak.
Genres ranged from country to polka, all with a titillating overtone of bawdiness. “Why are you mor-r-rose!?” proclaimed the notorious punk poet during a break in the music, launching into Babyshambles’s thunderous Wolfman. They ended the show like a night at the pub, with the whole band singing a heartfelt but crudely disjointed version of Hallelujah, bringing to mind Jimi Hendrix’s Star-Spangled Banner, and The Libertines’ Up the Bracket.
Despite being thoroughly and satisfyingly intoxicated, Doherty gave a riveting performance the lucky attendees will not soon forget. The uncouth entertainer didn’t need to speak — he gave himself shamelessly to the adoring crowd with raw fervour and a wry sense of humour. In an era of stringent health and safety regulations and widespread sobriety, it was refreshing to see that the true spirit of punk rock can still prevail, if only for one electrifying evening.
Photos: Filippo L’Astorina
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Watch the video for I Don’t Love Anyone (But You’re Not Just Anyone) here: