Doors opened and there was a mass surge to the front with everyone who had queued for ages. We secured our place on the barrier (which Cal soon gave up to be a part of the mosh pits) and the waiting continued for the first support act - Cuckoolander. I was lucky enough to see this artist in the Barclaycard Theatre at BST Hyde Park the first time I saw The Libertines, and was truly blown away. Think Wolf Alice but with a little less Nirvana and a bit more sing-a-longy. Despite being the first act, they played to a good-sized crowd who were drawn into the arena with the sleazy rock/pop vibes they possess and show off so well. Playing a set of 6 or 7 tracks including debut single 'Dumb Dee Diddy Dumb' and their newly released 'Whats Out There,' the mass variety on show puts them in goodstead for the release of their debut EP on the 12th October. Overall, a short but sweet set that gained them a whole lot more exposure.
Following Cuckoolander came Peace. Not the first time seeing this band for either of us, the promise of the funky indie rhythms by the b-town boys made the gig even more exciting. Having only ever seen Peace as the headlining band, it was a good experience to see how they would handle being support for a rowdy, laddy band such as The Libertines. The answer? The boys' groovy tracks went down a treat. Opening with the absolute banger that is Lovesick, it was clear that there was some Peace fans in the house. Almost immedietly a mosh pit opened up and the crowd got going. The carnage continued into Follow Baby and all the way through the new track Money. Fan favourite Wraith came next which as always, spawned a mass sing-a-long to the lyrics "You could be my ice age sugar/lay me down and make me shiver." A personal highlight was the latest single from album number two, Lost On Me. Probably one of my favourite Peace songs to date, it is the epitome of funky. Penultimate track California Daze is always a magical sing-a-long, before giving the crowd one last skank oppourtunity with World Pleasure, despite cries of 'PLAY 1998!' most of which probably came from Calum himself. All in all, the best I have ever seen Peace play, and it's incredible to see just how far they have come since debut album In Love was released last year. The best support act I could have asked for, and the crowd involvement definitely prepared us for the madness to come.
30 minutes on from Peace's set o' singles, music started, and the big screen which had simply read 'PEACE' through the last set lowered itself to the ground. From the distance, a pre-record of a remixed Good Old Days began to play, as the screen whizzed through a ten minute 'documentary' of shots from back in the day. Several times the screen stopped, and everything went black, until the next part of the documentary carried on. For what probably was an eternity, the images carried on until finally, it all stopped. It all went dark, and led by a be-tunic-ed Carl Barat, The Libertines took to the stage.
"We're The Libertines" said a hatted figure; it was greeted with a cheer, and why shouldn't it be? This was the first proper English show that the band had played since I've been old enough to get into 14+ gigs. To a packed out palace, the four-piece laid straight into a messy-feedback driven version of The Delaney, the explosive b-side to I Get Along. Despite it's initial messy sound, the band quickly clicked into the magnificent force that they've made their name as.
While the crowd manically wrestled for the front, they twanged their way through Campaign of Hate, and then Vertigo off of Up The Bracket. Through Vertigo it was so apparent; the Libertines are back and the chemistry between Pete and Carl is alive and kicking.
Shortly, they played the first unparalleled classic; Time For Heroes. One of the single greatest songs written this side of the millennium, and the cry of "DID YOU SEE THE STYLISH KIDS IN THE RIOT?" was really powerful. From there they only accelerated, not looking back.
Horrorshow was explosive, and through Begging they were passionate. By the time a surprisingly healthy Pete Doherty, armed with an acoustic guitar said "Here's a new one", the prospect of new Libs song was exciting. In fact, it was almost disappointing when the ten second long snippet of this "new song" morphed into Music When The Lights Go Out instead of Pete and Carl proving they've still got it as arguably the greatest songwriting duo since Bell and Gardener.
Throughout their set, they sounded tight with a brilliant amount of Barat/Doherty chemistry. Over the mic kisses and stunning duets were electric, with their set being absolutely perfect. After the waltzing Music When the Lights Go Out and What Katie Did, their set picked up with unstoppable pace once more. A string of The Boy Looked At Johnny, Can't Stand Me Now, Boys in the Band and Last Post On The Bugle was hectic, and another opportunity for the Libs to show why they're just the best in the business. The songs they're singing are about as great as songs can be.
The final five songs was an explosion of energy, resulting in a couple of what-felt-like near death experiences in the crowd. The experience of hanging over a barrier while Pete and Carl share a mic over my personal favourite track Death On The Stairs is one that could not be beaten, until 5 seconds after it ended when the oh-so-recognisable drum roll began, marking the beginning of all time fan favourite, Don't Look Back Into The Sun. Definitely the most chaotic song, with the crowd going absolutely batshit crazy from start to finish. Following this came Tell The King and The Good Old Days which contains some of the best Libs lyrics ever. "If you've lost your faith in love and music/oh the end won't be long." This marked the end of the main set, and as soon as they departed the stage, the cries of ONE MORE SONG began and didn't stop until the duo returned.
The encore contained two teasers and a reading of a fan's letter before it got going again. The first full song they played was in fact, Cal's all time favourite Libertines song, You're My Waterloo. It was a truly magical experience and I must admit, tears were shed from both of us. Following the emotional break, came a trio of songs which created the best end to a set I have ever experienced. Up The Bracket, What A Waster and I Get Along are all massive anthems which sum up just about everything The Libertines represent. But of course, the highlight to end all highlights came about halfway through I Get Along when every single person in the venue screamed "FUCK EM" at the top of their lungs, in perfect sync with one Mr Carlos Barat.
Overall, it was probably the best gig I have ever been to. The atmosphere was a plethora of electric energy, raw passion and love for each other and what they are doing. A combination of Pete, Carl, Gary and John is a combination like no other, and one I am incredibly happy to have witnessed in such a setting as Alexandra Palace. Truly unforgettable.
(WRITTEN BY POPPY MARRIOTT & CALUM CASHIN)
Photo Credit to Jordan Curtis Hughes