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Concert Review: Pete Doherty – Intoxicatingly Sober

It’s been almost a year and a half since Pete Doherty left rehab in Thailand. Almost all stories about the man in the hat begin this way, and the similarities don’t end there; the common aim is complete exposure before the gossip-rag reading public.
The real Pete.
For most of us however, it is a struggle to find this media-sculpted facade of Kate Moss, heroin and cats on crack relevant. The interesting questions pertain to the man as an artist, and it seems that during the new tour, these are the only sort to be asked.

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The relationship between Doherty and the media is turbulent to say the least; despite the apparent mutual hate they don’t seem to be able to leave one-another alone, pestering each-other constantly with new, strikingly familiar sounding scandals. The evening in London presented a change of tune; nothing mattered but the pure sound. The stunning venue, the Hackney Empire, a monument to the glamour and decadence of the turn of the century, did all possible to lay the foundations for a memorable evening.

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The three supporting bands ‘Jack from Trampoline’, ‘Simon Mason’ und ‘Amyjo Doh & The Spangles’ all performed well, although concentrating on the music was made difficult by the chatter in the audience. Among diverse faces was a student who told me that she has to work full time alongside her studies to be able to afford to live even on the outskirts of central London. I also met a few barely post-pubescent teenagers, who gushed about their love for Germany and the clubs in Cologne, where it’s apparently possible for one to bed up to seven women in one evening.

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Silence ruled. Pete Doherty was onstage, with him five band members.
Much had changed compared with Pete’s solo performances of the past. These were generally either unaccompanied, or alongside a few violinists, never anyone more notable than Pete’s bandmate Mick Whitnall from ‘Babyshambles‘. The formerly purely acoustic setup had undergone a transformation, and a new light-blue Telecaster took centre stage. Aside from the optical difference, the instrumental solos resonated with a somewhat sober clarity, which would formerly have been very out of place. The trademark outrageousness of the guitar parts was produced solely by the sound technician, not any member of the band.

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The sound of the yet-to-be-published album can be described as soft, folky, and elastic. A pause was rarely taken between the songs, and only once did Doherty make use of the relative quiet and thanked the audience for their support. After an hour and a half the last chords of ‘Flags of the Old Regime’ faded away and the show was over. No sign of the ‘Fuck Forever’ days, at least for now…For the time being one can only enjoy revelling at a not-too-excessive concert from Pete(r). Voyeurs are probably the only sort of fan left disappointed; the current tour is all about the music.

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By Leo Zimmermann ON MAY 19, 2016 – Photos Tana Kadlecova –