Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Peter Doherty @ The Underground 12th February 2009

Review and photo Chloe West

With a new solo album release and a subsequent tour approaching, there would always be speculation as to whether Mr Doherty would return to his ‘Albion’, The Potteries for a warm up appearance. And on Thursday evening he did exactly that, announcing the gig just over a week beforehand, resulting in frantic fans buying up all available tickets in less than 48 hours, leaving the less fortunate to queue for hours beforehand. So from the previous facts it would be possible to deduce that the lucky few within the Underground’s walls that night would be Peter’s keenest followers, eager to see this exclusive acoustic set in such intimate surroundings, and with the added prospect of new material? Apparently not.

Prior to stepping a foot inside there were tales of brawls and tensions escalating even before the nine ‘o’ clock water shed. It never could have been a calm atmosphere for one man and his guitar. As Pete(r) strolls on stage draped in the now trademark black trilby and blazer combo, lager showers from either side and it begins. The photo show that is. Never before have such a wide spectrum of cameras/phones been showcased together apart from in the glossy pages of the Argos catalogue, as arms flail to reach the perfect angle. Being not the greatest fan of snap-shotting gigs myself, in this case it almost helped to blend in rather than be alienated. Two lads behind me took so long to position their camera I was half expecting them to pull out a tripod and ask Pete to say cheese.

Anyway, whether being viewed through various mega pixelage or not, Pete casually opens with the raucous Libertine number ‘What A Waster’ before quietly moving into ‘Music When The Lights Go Out’ beginning a series of his former bands anthemic tracks dotted through out, including ‘Up the Bracket’, ‘Cant Stand Me Now’, and ‘Don’t Look Back Into The Sun’ which the crowd receive with much chorus. This is the same with the many Shambles tunes included in the near 90 minute set, although at some points Doherty doesn’t seem to grasp attention with his new songs, and unfortunately conversation overrules the music. The first example of any material off ‘Grace/Wastelands’ is ‘A Little Death Around The Eyes’, a song which, like a lot of the album, has been developing for some years, with acoustic demos floating about all over the show. Tonight we here something similar to these early ideas, stripped back once again to their rawest elements; minus effects, strings and Graham Coxon’s added guitar. Acoustic ‘Sweet By And By’ seems almost like a jolly school sing a long, apparently partially based on Kate’s lack of goodbye after they split (‘It wasn’t so long ago, when you said you loved me so/ Where did you go? You didn’t even say goodbye). ‘Palace Of Bone’ has a low bluesy feel to it, which becomes part of a continuous half hour jam, Doherty slipping from one age of his song writing career to another within minutes, occasionally perching on a high backed leather arm chair, as though deep in musical thought. At one point he even tucks in a quick version of Love’s ‘Alone Again Or’, but the by this point the seemingly bored majority instead turn to crowd surfing to keep themselves amused.
Ending on ‘Fuck Forever’, the night in a nut shell exposed first hand how explicitly Doherty has become a media persona; the lines of Killamangiro have never seemed more apt (And why would you pay to see me in a cage/That some men call the stage), when most of the crowd only seem interested in ‘the ones they know’ and kicking two shades of shit out of each other. With a police car perched outside the doors as the night drew to a close, it looks like it’ll take more than a personal reinvention and a solo project to shake the reputation created around him.

‘Get up of your back/Stop smoking that/You could change your life/Do you think they’ll change their minds?’

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