Doherty’s Islington flat and Barât’s Bethnal Green abode. Having such access to a band you loved, he says, made all the difference.
“Nowadays, it’s kind of a given that you can be very close to the bands you like through Twitter, or whatever. Back then, it was kind of a new thing for a band to use the internet for stuff like that,” he claims. “That was the great thing about The Libertines: they didn’t seem to be in it for the money, otherwise why would they play gigs like that?” Seen as a “band of the people”, perhaps, it was natural that the quartet – or at least the relationship at its core, between Doherty and Barât – would make human errors.
The duo have had a fractious love-hate relationship almost from the offset, and it
Doherty reveals that the band had been offered “millions” to reform for festivals that year, but that Barât (below) had been apprehensive about doing so.
A press conference in March confirms that the Libertines are to reform for the Reading and Leeds festivals in August. was one that worsened as Doherty’s drug habit took hold. Even now, having agreed to reunite this year (reportedly at Doherty’s insistence), they haven’t spent any time in each other’s company since the gigs were announced in March.
Rehearsals, in their typically ill-prepared manner, didn’t begin until the second week in August. Barât himself has admitted that there’s a lingering tension. It’s hard to see where a band already on such rickety foundations can go from here, but that tempestuous bond is arguably what made the Doherty-Barât songwriting partnership so special in the first place.
Many consider their alliance to be a continuation of the British indie songwriting tradition; the Noughties version of Morrissey and Marr or Brown and Squire. The fact that neither of their post-Libertines endeavours (Doherty’s solo album and his work with Babyshambles, and Barât’s career with Dirty Pretty Things) have set the musical world alight adds weight to the argument that they work best as foils to each other.
In addition, perhaps Doherty, now 31, is now in a better frame of mind – older, if not necessarily wiser – to handle a reformation. His career has flagged somewhat over the past year, and it’s his car-crash of a personal life that continues to fascinate both the media and the general public alike, something that must rankle with the man who won poetry competitions as a teenager and takes his music very seriously.
At the same time, without his inadvertent rock-star persona, The Libertines would probably never have become so venerated in the first half of the last decade. The volatility of the band and particularly Doherty make them compelling, something that Festival Republic (the promoters behind the Reading and Leeds festivals) were surely aware of when placing their reputedly generous offer on the table.
“The Libertines were never well-rehearsed, and even their live gigs could always go either way – but that was part of the appeal, because it was exciting. And rock music should be exciting,” says Cummins. “That’s why punk was so big, because you didn’t know what was going to happen. Even in Ireland, people love The Pogues and Shane MacGowan because everybody loves a bit of unpredictability.
“Bands can become too polished and sterile, and The Libertines were the complete opposite of that. Lots of people hate them for those reasons, but it’s also the reason why the people who love them love them.” It’s impossible to know what way their trinity of gigs (a warm-up set will take place in London next week) will go. It may all end it tears. It may well end in fists. It may even end in an extended tour, a third album and a renaissance of sorts, although with Barât’s solo album due for release in October, a third Babyshambles album also on the way, and Powell’s band The Invasion Of . . . taking off, it’s unlikely that that would occur before the end of the year.
Whatever happens, the legacy of The Libertines will probably continue to split opinion for years to come. An ending fitting for the start? Only time will tell. The On The Record census returns are in: 75 music festivals and outdoor shows will have been held in Ireland this summer.
Since 2007 an annual head count has been carried out on the On The Record blog to attempt to establish the number of festivals and one-off outdoor shows that take place here every summer. While the census can’t claim to be 100 per cent accurate, the returns provide a handy guide to the state of the sector.
What has been striking in the past two years is the steady, ongoing increase in smaller events. Even though big-cheese events Oxegen and Electric Picnic continue to get the most attention by
(Moshi Moshi) Excellent Hudson Mohawke-produced EP of technicolour wibbly-pop from bright-as-buttons Mancunian teens. virtue of the size of the audience they attract, smaller events that attract 5,000 punters or fewer are gaining traction.
The biggest decrease? That would be in the number of stand-alone outdoor artist shows in venues such as Marlay Park and Malahide Castle. This is due to such shows moving indoors to the O2 to avail of fixed production costs (and avoid the vagaries of Irish weather) and also to a reduction in the number of heritage acts on the touring circuit this year.
But it’s not all beer and skittles for the small festivals. Two August events – Indie’Go in Fenagh, Co Carlow, featuring Aswad, Due in October, the new album from Antony Hegarty and friends is a much stronger and more rounded experience than previous releases.
(Domino) Chockablock with big-room boogie, Mega Mega Mega also succeeds in showing Mystery Jets in a good light, via guest spot on After Dark. Alabama 3 and Jerry Fish & The Mudbug Club; and the teen-oriented Summer Blow Out, featuring Alexandra Burke, N-Dubz and Razorlight (below) at Dublin’s Donnybrook Stadium – were cancelled (although the Blow Out was scattered across three other venues).
In the case of Indie’Go, the cancellation happened on the second of the event’s planned three days, while Summer Blow Out organisers Premium Nights put the change in their plans down to “circumstances beyond our control”.
(Full Time Hobby) Spooky rustic folk sounds on the third album from Canadian Taylor Kirk, the dude with the “creep on creepin’ on” motto. (Honest Jons) “It’s fantastic, the best thing I’ve heard for a long time. It’s how music should be”