Peter Doherty

There are good gigs, mediocre gigs, and bad gigs. And then there are those gigs that you ask yourself why you even went and stayed the full 90 minutes of laborious torture that tried to pass itself off as a “gig” at all. Something closer to a comedy of gross errors, where the errors are really the same joke repeated over and over until it stops being funny anymore. That was Pete Doherty’s set in a complete nutshell.

Pete Doherty has contributed some good tunes to our playlists. His recent solo effort (2009’s ‘Grace/Wastelands’), independent of his work with Babyshambles and the recently reformed Libertines, has provided strong dividends in the form of further critical acclaim. His accomplishment as a songwriter is without question, with such solid tunes as ‘Last of the English Roses’, ‘Arcady’, and ‘Broken Love Song’ (not forgetting such fantastic tracks as ‘Fuck Forever’ which he wrote with his indie-band Babyshambles). However, it is his rather eccentric lifestyle that seems to draw the ire of the tabloid-reading public.

After being consistently riddled with scandals and criminal offences, Pete’s PR have tried to clean up his image for his latest tour by adding a cosmetic change to his title – referring to him as ‘Peter’, instead of Pete, on the billing to give him a certain appearance of respectability. It’s a nice touch if it were closer to Pete trying to raise his profile and clean up his act in a positive direction but alas this was not so for the set that this reviewer experienced.

Stumbling out on stage about 20 minutes late, he began to play through his setlist in what could only be described as a lazy mumble where the audience (or rather the tiny handful that wasn’t absolutely plastered) could hardly distinguish the words, sounds or the semblances of the songs he was playing. It wasn’t that this reviewer had never heard his music before – the sheer fact was that “Peter” performed so awfully that he mutilated or crippled everything he had contributed to the music ether. To add insult to injury, the venue’s sound system was in poor shape, with frequent and erratic squealing from Pete’s microphone, making the gig an even harder endurance test for the audience.

Keeping a gig interesting when the main act is hardly intelligible, and is just one guy and a guitar as the focus of attention, is difficult enough but for absolutely no reason at all two “ballerinas” that couldn’t really dance (let alone pose) and who looked bizarrely mannish came onstage to “complement” the mess being thrown at our senses. In addition, someone decided to place a little rocking chair on the stage to keep him company. Pete sat in it only once for about 5 seconds out of the entire set, making it completely redundant.
There were some lighter moments. Like when some clever soul threw a whole pint at Pete to amusing effect. If there’s one thing I can credit Mr. Doherty with from this gig is that he took the entire night in his stride and seemed totally oblivious to everything going wrong around him…. even his terrible vocals.

He came out for two encores, in honour of the alcoholic army that could best be described as his inebriated fan club. But many started leaving way before that. For the sake of this review, yours truly stuck around to hear those encores. His final song of the night, an acoustic version of his Babyshambles song ‘Fuck Forever’, was sadly, nothing to write home about.

Walking out of that gig I was left wondering two things – what the hell happened? And how do I get those 90 minutes of my life back?!

***Post-script – As of 20th May 2011, Pete Doherty has now been sent for another stint in prison, sparing future potential victims from his latter run of tour dates. For at least 6 months.****


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