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The Libertines, O2 Victoria Warehouse, Manchester, December 10th

There a few things that will get me to my least favourite venue in Manchester and even less that will get me excited about being there on a Tuesday night but The Libertines are not your average band. Infamous and controversial often for all the wrong Pete Doherty based reasons but their fans have endured all the weather the trilby wearing baby faced nightmare has thrown at them.  

The band confidently stride onto the stage to the legendary wartime sounds of Vera Lynn and launched into ‘The Delaney’ with their trademark on-stage antics of collisions from shared microphones and banter. While Doherty’s enduring issues with addiction are a media goldmine and this year’s shenanigans have ranged from arrests to being injured by a hedgehog, but tonight he looked like he’d just visited the barbers and was reasonably well, and his vocals were as beautifully fitting as the crumples in his suit. Barât was also on fine form, while inarguably just as talented he escaped the same limelight as his counterpart. He always was and no doubt always steady the good ship Albion, never wavering or faltering and tonight was just the same. The Libertines and possibly not Doherty himself would be here if not for Barât.

‘Can’t Stand Me Now’ that documented the fractured friendship between the two bandmates which has over the years since its inception seen even more tests to the unbreakable duos relationship but tonight they seemed to finally be at harmony with both excepting the issues and limitations within themselves and the other.  

‘What Became of the Likely Lads’ the tale of hopeful young men foretelling their own regretful futures became even more poignant now given the last decade of highs and lows. But tonight answered this as the lads in question have come back older, calmer and more controlled with a much tighter set then I have ever seen them play but still as passionate as ever. 

The encore which included my personal favourites of ‘Music When the Lights Go Out’ and ‘What Katie Did” had the audiences reminiscing of their own sweet girls in this modern cruel world and Finale ‘Don’t Look Back Into the Sun” was of course given riotous applause. While Barât and Doherty’s own brand of poetic sing a long punk-rock could be said to be slightly out of step with today’s reality, who really cared? Certainly, no one in the audience as let’s face it, reality sucks and any 30 something adult with a scrap of interest in reality wouldn’t be pissed on Tuesday in the cavernous bunker that is Vicky warehouse. The fans did indeed look back into the sun, the sun of their 20s when the band first hit the scene and created their own unique world with dreams of a mythical England where culture was celebrated and had a real impact.

A little note to the support act too, Ed Cousins, the driving melodic force from Reverend and the makers humbled the crowd with his new solo project, keep a lookout for him and his new album in the new year.

📸 Credit Jo Lowes