The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - Music -

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”

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