Meltdown Festival: The Libertines at the Royal Festival Hall
The troubled past of The Libertines is well known. Love troubles, addiction problems and internal conflict eventually led to the premature split of a band credited as one of the very best of their generation. Despite the intensity of the highly publicised drama surrounding the group at their peak, it was the music that ultimately endured, with The Libertines eventually reforming and proceeding to release a third album in 2015.
Since officially reforming in 2014, the reunion has felt like an effort to make up for lost time, to capture what made them the endearing band they were in their heyday. This one-off gig for Robert Smith’s (of The Cure fame) Meltdown festival at the Southbank was full of affection, brotherhood and an almost inherent musical understanding of one another – features that have come to define their legacy.
Entering the stage to a rapt audience, Carl Barât took charge of the first half of the gig, with Pete Doherty on backup vocals; the roles were then reversed for the second part. But this split wasn’t conspicuous, it felt more of a marriage of the two styles, with Doherty’s emotionally tinged lyrics supported by Barât on the piano during the latter stages of the night. The humidity looked to have drained Doherty in particular by the end of the set, but the veterans had enough energy to consummately play a slew of hits including Can’t Stand Me Now, What Became of the Likely Lads, and Time for Heroes.
A welcome surprise was a rousing rendition of The Cure’s Boys Don’t Cry, however, the best, as per usual, was saved for last. Emerging for an encore to close a one-and-a-half-hour set, the band first allowed drummer Gary Powell to perform a blistering solo complete with a broken wrist sustained on the eve of the gig, and then played the anthemic Don’t Look Back into the Sun to a well-versed audience, drawing the curtains on a night that exhibited the love affair fans will be hoping lives on for a while yet.
Photo: Caitlin Mogridge
For further information and future events visit The Libertines’ website here.
Watch the video for Don’t Look Back into the Sun here: