Live Review: The Libertines at British Summer Time

It’s the big reunion everyone’s been talking about, and some random guy was there to report

Photo: Magnus D

Photo: Magnus D

When it was announced that The Libertines would be performing together at British Summer Time in Hyde Park, it was hard to view the reunion with anything other than skepticism. Perhaps due to the disappointment that followed the romance of the Leeds and Reading reunion performances in 2010, which led to no new material from the infamous indie rockers. But certainly this time round, there was no real sense that this was anything other than a financial venture.

Regardless, the 60,000 strong crowd in Hyde Park were in good spirits when the boys in the band eventually stumbled onto the stage; Carl donned the famous scarlet military jacket.

The energy throughout the crowd was intense, as the boys began their set off with “Vertigo”, a fan favourite. Unfortunately, even before the band could really get going, the music had stopped.

During “Boys in the Band”, the band juddered to a halt, as a crowd rush caused problems near the front of the stage. “We can’t carry on if you don’t calm down a bit,” Pete said.

Eventually the boys continued to play, only to be stopped yet again, this time because of the number of flares and fireworks going off in the crowd. After a second restart, “Boys in the Band” was abandoned altogether.

Of course none of this was the fault of the Libertines. However, all of these problems got the gig off to a really limp start.

Add to this the poor acoustics and the mumbled vocals, and the fact that tickets for British Summer Time costed £60, for a pretty dreary lineup besides the Libertines themselves, and cynicism soon began to take hold.

I can’t really put my finger on what was off with the performance – The Libs were generous with their setlist, playing all the classics as well as more obscure tracks, and we also a bit of the classic chemistry between frontmen Carl Barat and Pete Doherty – but the whole thing just seemed a bit fake.

Regardless, every time they began to play one of the old classics, such as “Don’t Look Back into the Sun”, or “Death on the Stairs” the doubts melted away.

For a band with a bigger reputation off the stage than on it, it was a relief that these famous tunes were still able to stir up such emotion throughout the crowd.,

The gig ended with an energetic rendition of “I Get Along,” before being refused the chance to reappear for an encore, due to noise restrictions in place around Hyde Park.

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