Review: The Libertines at O2 Academy Bournemouth

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The Libertines kicked off the UK leg of their European tour to a packed out O2 Academy Bournemouth.  

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Oh, how Bournemouth has lusted for The Libertines ever since their last trip down over two years ago. That was (surprisingly) their first-ever arena tour, selling out BIC just down the road, towards the seafront. Tonight, they were playing to a packed out O2 Academy with both upstairs tiers of the glitzy venue full of eager spectators. They were not disappointed as the likely lads provided an hour and a half of raucous sing-a-longs.

There was an air of tension as the clock struck nine. It could well have been that the crowd members who turned up early to see a trio of support acts were disappointed to see two of them drop out at the last minute. The Shop Girls stepped up to play a longer than anticipated set and kudos to them for that. Alternatively, the tension in the air could simply have been due to the fact that when The Libertines are in town, things are undoubtedly going to kick-off. As a close-up backdrop of bassist John Hassall’s face appeared and The Libertines entered the stage it became clear that it was the latter that was true. Instant mosh pits forming, pints being flung and the odd shirt coming off in the crowd. Pete Doherty, dressed very smartly indeed, in a suit with suspenders, jeered up the crowd with his first words “COME ON BOURNEMOUTH!” which was responded to with chants of “PETE, PETE, PETE”… Appropriate.

The opening trio of tunes consisted of one from each album: ‘The Delaney’ for starter, ‘Heart of the Matter’ for main and ‘Horrowshow’ for dessert. All were equally well received by the crowd’s palate. It was clear that the 10-year long gap between The Libertines’ eponymous second album and the sixteen-song-long masterpiece (try saying that over 10 times) that is Anthems for a Doomed Youth didn’t have an effect on the level of appreciation shown to each song. After a Libertines classic in ‘Boys in The Band’, Carl Barat took to the piano for the first time as Doherty stood centre stage for ‘You’re My Waterloo’. A previously unreleased track from The Libertines which fortunately made its way onto that third album. An absolute heart warmer which had the O2 swaying from side to side.

Doherty had an altercation with his harmonica as he struggled to get it out of his pocket for ‘Can’t Stand Me Now’ missing the first note of that famous solo but quickly recovering, like a true showman. Of course in true Libertines fashion, mics were swapped and shared between Doherty and Barat whilst deadpan hero Hassall was rooted to the spot, yet flawless with the bass. Both the likes of the ‘Ha Ha Wall’ and rollicking single ‘Gunga Din’ came at the halfway stage of the set. Both possessing their own changes in tempo which allowed for drowsy skanking followed by energetic jumping and moshing. The tone then changed as Doherty, Hassall and drummer Gary Powell crowded around a solo mic staged in front of the piano for slow jam ‘Dead for Love’ while Barat played the piano. It looked like something from Band-Aid, but it still sounded good though.

The main part of the set ended with a flurry of hits; ‘What Became of the Likely Lads’, ‘Music When the Lights Go Out’ and ‘Death on the Stairs’. The latter was preceded by an awesome drum solo by Powell, which appeared to have even his band members mesmerised as he incorporated elements of rock, funk and ska into his drumming. The band exited the stage but everyone knew there was more fun to be had. The band re-entered to a huge roar entering into an encore consisting purely of noughties bangers. The Libertines again had everyone swaying and this time shoop shoop de-lang-a-lang’ing with ‘What Katie Did’. ‘Don’t Look Back into the Sun’ instilled feelings of nostalgia and was played slower in tempo to the recording, allowing for more of a ‘bouncy mosh’. The opposite was true for closer ‘I Get Along’ which was infused with the raw, raucous energy which helped shoot the Libertines to the top in the early 2000s.

The Libertines continue their tour of the UK culminating prior to Christmas in two huge shows at Brixton and a show in Margate, minutes away from their newly opened hotel. Buy tickets here.

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