Fresh from the double bounty of Prince William dressing up in their trademark red jacket for that little private ceremony in London and another reunion gig earlier in the week on Wednesday night fans of The Libertines probably hoped that the reunion was really on this time.
I count myself amongst that number as for a spell at the beginning of the last decade which unfortunately only yielded two albums I considered The Libertines one of the most important bands making music.
Last summer the reunion buzz (which to be fair has never gone away since the band acrimoniously splintered in 2004) seemed to be rewarded as the band did the summer festival circuit playing at the Reading and Leeds Festival in England. I didn’t attend but the response was warm even if the gigs didn’t have the same electricity as they had when the band were at their best from what I’ve seen.
You don’t need to do much research as to what caused the tension between the band in the first place and then resulted in the songwriting partnership between Barât and Doherty to undergo a six year hiatus. Just jump on to Google and type in ‘Pete Doherty arrest’ to get a flavour if you’re new to the party. Why it’s so tragic is that together I think they collectively possessed a songwriting sensibility that doesn’t come along very often coupled with the fact that their dueling vocals and excellent guitar rage left the competition looking very timid by comparison. When you look back at the endless drug related incidents with Pete that often left the band on the verge of disintegration I was always skeptical that Carl would ever bring the band back together in the first place.
The subsequent twelve months haven’t really seen a change in the pattern as Doherty continues to struggle. It gives me no pleasure to see his addictions keep chipping away at his potential, even with Babyshambles I think he’s written some of the best music of the last decade, but Pete hasn’t changed…and I think Barât doubts if he ever will. Moreover I think Carl offering the band another ride showed that more than anything he wants to see Pete get it together long enough to make records and tour with him again, at their best they were like brothers but watching your brother slowly kill himself can’t be a great experience.
Knowing that Pete will never read this I wish the sentiment would at least be known to him, like most fans of his talented ability I want to see him clean and prolific…putting him back into a position where he writes some of the best music of this era. I don’t think Barât has much patience left after the gig this week as he stated, “It’s the end of a chapter for sure for me. Tonight a curtain is falling on something… Anything is possible again but for me it’s almost cathartic and I can now move on.”
I imagine the only thing that can change that is the same thing that it was always contingent upon; a clean and fully functioning Pete Doherty. Beyond the selfish reasons I have to see The Libertines record again I really hope that he can do that for himself, the door seems to be closing.
by Wallace McTavish