Join a Band or Join the Army – Peter Doherty and the Puta Madres @ The Ritz, Manchester (09.05.2019)

If I was given a pound for every time I got asked ‘so what state do you think Pete will be in for the gig?’ then I would be very rich indeed. However, as he sauntered on stage with a cheeky glint in his eye you could tell we were in for a good night. With two support acts and a magician compare as well, it was certainly a unique experience not to be forgotten.

Kicking off the evening’s entertainment was Dan Lyons and his band, a six piece army that filled the stage. Formerly the drummer of Fat White Family (who funnily enough headlined the Ritz only a few days before), Dan and his band created some wonderfully crafted songs, both melodic and vibrant. As if Wilco had a child with the Mama’s and the Papa’s. There is a smile on Dan’s face throughout, ever growing as he could see the crowd getting more and more involved. This helped the rest of the band really relax into the set, and thirty minutes later, it was over far too quickly. You never know, there could be a collaboration with Pete in the future as they are both currently based in Margate… fingers crossed.

In between the acts Magic Mod performed a few tricks. A really good illusionist and amusing too. Very quick witted with the volunteers on stage and I was thoroughly impressed. He introduced the next band, Dirty Laces, a five piece from Manchester. The singer made quite the entrance after an instrumental introduction was played by the rest of the band. They all seemed up for it and looked like they were enjoying getting to play on such a stage. Musically it was fairly stereotypical Mancunian vibes, which meant the crowd were lapping it up.

After another instalment from Magic Mod, it was time for Peter Doherty and the Puta Madres. He recently turned forty and now prefers to go by his full name, which I’m clearly finding very difficult to remember. Starting with ‘All at sea’, the first track off the two-week old album, the crowd had already memorised the lyrics, displaying that undivided love that Pete feeds off, but utterly deserves. He charismatically made his way through the almost two hour mammoth set, which was an eclectic mix from his three solo albums. Only ‘Last of the English Roses’ was played off ‘Grace / Wastelands’, but an almost even spread between ‘Hamburg Demonstrations’ and ‘Peter Doherty and the Puta Madres’.

Sporting a bandage on his right hand from a recent run in with a hedgehog, Pete could still play with his typical ‘lost in the moment’ style like there was no injury at all. A beautiful trio in the middle of the set, ‘Kolly Kibber’, ‘Travelling Tinker’ and ‘Shoreleave’ showed a level of focus within his poetic contemplation, a heartfelt desire to show what these songs really meant to him. 

It wasn’t just about Pete though as the Puta Madres, who have been playing together for over two years now, really gel with each other and are accustomed to following the random nature of the performance. You could tell guitarist Jack Jones (of Trampolene fame) was loving every second, and Katia DeVidas on keys had her usual gleeful bounce. It was a very accomplished performance, each song complementing the next, proving any cynics wrong. In true Pete style there were a few intermissions, reading a passage from a book he was passed, or helping a fan on to the stage for hugs, but this is the type of behaviour you’ve come to expect from the man who practically invented Guerrilla Gigging.

‘Someone Else to be’ was the last song before the encore and after a quick word in Jack’s ear; Pete extended the homage to ‘Don’t Look Back in Anger’ by an extra verse, lifting the entire Manchester crowd to its customary word-for-word chanting.

Rapturous applause beckoned the return of Pete and the band, and when they started to play the Libertines song ‘You’re My Waterloo’ the crowd were at full chorus, the pleasure on Pete’s face undeniable. From the latest album, ‘The Steam’ upped the tempo and ‘Paradise is Under Your Nose’ closed what we all thought was the end of the show, with a real warm buzz. 

Then out of nowhere, an unexpected second encore. The whole place erupted to ‘Fuck Forever’, testing the famous spring board floor of the Ritz to its limits. Finishing off the with the iconic ‘Down in Albion’, which included a brief interlude of ‘A Fool There Was’, before Pete unplugged his guitar and took a theatrical group bow with the Puta Madres to the audiences acapella Albion and a thunderous ovation. As the lights came up all around were beaming from ear to ear. It was an emphatic show which proved just what a formidable talent Peter Doherty really is.

???? Credit Matt Parry