Pete Doherty at the Royal Albert Hall
The final date of Pete Doherty’s 20-date Battered Songbook tour sees him arrive at the most grandiose venue, the Royal Albert Hall – one which he thanks “old Charlie” for allowing him to play at.
The cosy stage set-up sees two worn black leather settees, a plant pot and a hat stand, complete with QPR flag and gaudy Union Jack hat, neatly arranged right in the centre. Indeed, the composed atmosphere remains for much of the gig. So much so that, when deep Libertines cuts such as Hooligans on E and Never Never are played, the crowd politely applaud when they end – songs that, in his early days, would have gained a more awe-struck response when fans revelled in the rare numbers from bootlegged Libertines sessions.
This tame reaction, though, seems a mere façade. When Doherty plays his most-famed compositions, such as Music When the Lights Go Out, Albion and Can’t Stand Me Now, the Albert Hall becomes so feverish that the audience boisterously croon along in elation. That sense of ecstasy, though, transforms into errant loutishness when the singer – as it turns out, imprudently – instigates a stage invasion catalysed by Time for Heroes. The enthralled throng that spills onto the stage swamps Doherty, overwhelms the equipment and “old Charlie’s” venue managers quickly call time on the night.
Naïve fans, failing to realise that the house lights at full brightness mean the show has been cut short, stay in the vain hope it will recommence. Indeed, the singer seemingly feels obliged to saunter back onto the stage twice to inform the audience via mime that the venue has cut the power. The response, though, is distinctly crabbed: a small salvo of beer-filled [I hope] plastic cups are hurled at him initially. Then, on his second return, the cheers are underscored with disgruntled groans and an especially boorish punter near the sound desk tries to reignite the fracas he started with Doherty’s roadie/guitarist during the stage invasion.
That palpable sourness, which underscores the deflated post-gig air, seems to have undone all that was enjoyable during the truncated set, even if it was chiefly the classic Libertines numbers that received the strongest reactions rather than the selection from Doherty’s sprawling songbook. While the concert was, seemingly, not a complete waste for some, it was sad that most of the audience who felt, ultimately, short-changed, begged to disagree.
Photos: Nick Bennett
For further information and future events visit Pete Doherty’s website here.
Watch the video for The Ballad Of here: