27 Jun 2015

The Libertines @ Glastonbury (live review)

OKAY, so this isn't an actual review of something I actually went to, but here we go anyhow. The Libertines' first UK show since their Ally Pally residency in 2015 was a surprise to almost everyone 'til they actually came on, and whilst most people knew they'd play on the internet, no one had any idea at all til yesterday morning.

The quartet walked out to a greatly positive reception; not many people were disappointed that it wasn't Taylor Swift; and immediately smashed their way into The Delaney, a b-side, fan favourite, and regular set-opener. Whilst they weren't as animated as they have been, their playing was so tight that even amidst an almost tangible reluctancy or tiredness (they'd only just flew in via copter, and had to shoot off to Russia afterwards), the band sounded energetic.

As per, they motored through the most of their near-perfect debut, Up The Bracket; the early set contained a smashing rendition of Horrorshow, as well as Time For Heroes and Vertigo, whilst they later managed to squeeze almost all of the rest of the album in towards the end - only missing Begging, Up The Bracket, and Radio America (the only track on the album that'd be better off not existing) - meaning that whilst they did thrust a few new ones out into the open, the set was ultimately rooted in some of their earliest material.

A sorta-orchestral version of early career gem You're My Waterloo tugged right on the 'strings, making sure that it was - like in September - a highlight of the set; slower than the studio version, Doherty's impassioned "AND TO SAY I BROUGHT YOU FLOWERS" was heartbreaking to say the least 'cos as I'm sure you're all aware, it's one of Doherty's more personal love-songs, and a love song for Barat nonetheless.

The two new tracks, Gunga Gin and Anthem For Doomed Youth, recieved a mixed reception, with some people getting really over-excited and others, like me, being crushed by the general feeling of disappointment at how lackluster it is. Gunga Gin is a ska-influenced track that just doesn't really have the heart it could have, and Anthem For Doomed Youth feels big, but ultimately it literally sounds like a parody of themselves.

However, despite this, there was a triumphant air to the band's set; storming versions of I Get Along and What A Waster made sure that the set was closed in style, before they topped it off with a brilliant rendition of Don't Look Back Into The Sun, proving that they really are one of the most vital bands of the 00's.

Throughout the set, they did seem tired - thankfully due to their hectic schedule than the drug problems that have plagued them in the past - and whilst they were definitely more energetic in September, they're now safely off the drugs and on course to only get musically better. But still; they put on (for me) a much better show than Florence (who was great, but did sonically force me to listen to theneedledrop's verdict on this week's releases), and above all, they seemed like a proper band again. Their new material, it's not great, but they do feel like they're sincerely reuniting, and despite the fact it is like their third reunion since their 2004 split, The Libs are back in business.

(written by calum cashin)