Pete Doherty / Dot Allison / Wolfman / Selfish C*nt / Andrew Aveling
Southampton Joiners, 29.7.04
As the clock strikes eleven, Peter Doherty, spiritual leader of London’s underground urchin-rock renegades, beat poet for the Big Brother generation, wades his way through his assembled throng of devotees and onto the tiny, dingily-lit stage more suited to a punk band touring the toilet circuit than to a man fast becoming an indie icon of the decade. “Sorry we’re late, we got a bit lost”, Pete utters in typically unassuming fashion, as the audience’s prolonged four-hour wait for their hero finally comes to an end.
The four hours leading up to Mr. Doherty’s arrival are strange to say the least. First up we have Andrew Aveling, the man originally behind Add N to X and now frontman of the White Sport. Dressed in a sailor’s jacket, Aveling performs a series of acoustic numbers, including one written by his grandma, rock n roll indeed. Selfish C*nt go down less well with the Southampton massive. It seems in fact that Selfish C*nt formed with the sole intention of pissing their audience off as much as is humanly possible. Neo-Nazi singer Martin Tomlinson jerks round the stage, make-up applied to his eyes making him resemble a gay panda, spasmodically jumping into the crowd and throwing himself into the audience’s face quite literally. His band don’t really make music as such, it’s more a serious of controv-rants dealing with a variety of topics from ‘pro-patriotism’ to his hatred of the poor. It’s not surprising when after jumping into the crowd Tomlinson’s mike is nicked off him and he’s heckled off the stage by some particularly lairy Libs’ fans.
Doherty’s chum and For Lovers collaborator Wolfman turns up for a brief acoustic set, but unfortunately seems too wasted to strum his way through his three songs, he did redeem himself by playing a sing-along version of the afore mentioned track though. It’s hard to believe that this Special Brew-swigging man, stumbling about the stage has actually had a Top Ten single.
“There’s plenty of room up here if you’re getting tired of standing”, Pete remarks three songs into his set, typically looking out for his fans as the first onslaught of stage invasions now synonymous with the Libertines begins. Flanked by Scottish songstress Dot Allison who lends vocals to certain tracks including Massive Attack’s Teardrop, as well as xylophone and tambourine, some tracks work marvellously using this formula such as the ideological Albion, but is an xylophone filling in for the lead guitar part of Don’t Look Back Into The Sun ever going to work? Playing largely audience requests, Pete trawls through around thirty songs including long lost classics such as the 7 Deadly Sins and Mockingbird, Libs’ hits and some abortive attempts at covers, see Ask by the Smiths.
Sure the gig’s shambolic, and many songs are stopped halfway, not to mention the countless guitar strings that are broken, but it’s all part of Pete’s ramshackle charm that makes him so endearing. Far from the stolid junkie stereotype, Doherty is articulate, witty and seems very much on the ball. Although the volatile situation surrounding the Libertines doesn’t help, let’s hope that tonight’s performance is a sign of things to come.