Forever rebels, The Libertines rolled onstage 45 minutes late on Sunday at Glasgow’s Carling Academy. Despite booing from an understandably impatient crowd just moments before, all was quickly forgiven and forgotten as they rebooted band tore into traditional opener, “Horror Show”.
The gig was part of a short-run string of shows across the UK this week as a taster of things to come; long-awaited LP, “Anthems Of Doomed Youth” is due to drop this weekend. However, only a small sprinkling on new tracks were aired in Glasgow; lead single, “Gunga Din”, title track, “Anthems Of Doomed Youth” and “Barbarians”.
To the delight of fans who have been dreaming about Pete Doherty and Carl Barat putting aside their drug-induced differences and jostling for centre stage once again, it was the tracks that we first fell in love with The Libertines that shaped the fast and furious set. “What Katie Did” came complete with swaying and “shoop-de-lang-a-lang’s”, “Time For Heroes” echoed the raw energy of the band’s heyday, “Music When The Lights Go Out” was played with an air of nostalgia that was impossible to rehearse while signature song, “Can’t Stand Me Now” saw the crowd erupt into a frenzy when Doherty played his harmonica solo; this mouth-organ moment cemented fans hopes that the Albion-bound ship was back on track.
The in-between track chat was limited, but it mattered very little; punters were here to see the love him/hate him, (sometimes) brutal bromance between Doherty and Barat; their mic-sharing, seemingly playful nudges are very much alive and still the heart of what makes The Libs special.
There was never a question of whether the love for The Libs was still there; pre-reunion, their music defined a generation despite having only released two LPs prior to their 2004 split and their reunion was something fans never gave up hope on, despite how impossible it seemed at times, but do they still have what it takes 11 years on? As the rejuvenated Libs ripped into “What A Waster” in the encore, I could have sworn it was 2002 again; rock ‘n’ roll was raw and The Libertines signified hope filling a void which The Strokes and The White Stripes had promised on, but never delivered.
Closer “Don’t Look Back Into The Sun” came all too soon, but as Doherty, Barat, drummer, Gary Powell and bassist, John Hassall bowed out in a flurry of ear-to-ear grins, back patting, hugs and hair ruffling, it’s safe to say The Libertines are as thrilled to be back as we are to have them.