Manchester was once again graced with the presence of The Libertines’ stand out star. I say standout star; it is not exactly because of the right reasons. Peter Doherty has become somewhat synonymous with his off stage actions and battles with addictions rather than his on stage performances. Yes, it has elevated him to a cult like level of fame amongst his fans, but it has taken quite the toll on his performances. It is no longer the case of, “What will he play tonight?” but more, “Will he turn up?”.
The solo tour, titled Eudaimonia, is a chance for him to showcase his ability to perform and sing. A chance to stick a middle finger up to his critics and say he still has it. In retrospect, he may only partially raise that finger. Yes, the man can sing, but his stage presence and singing style leaves little to the imagination. The tour’s name references the Greek word for a contended state of happiness and health. He has kicked his drug and drinking habits, but the long term toll they have taken on him are evident throughout his set.
The crowd were supportive of Pete, but it felt as if they were contently on edge. Unfortunately for Pete, the only songs that seemed to go down well with the audience were ones from The Libertines and Babyshambles back catalogue. Tracks such as ‘Time for Heroes’ and ‘Kilimanjaro’ pleased the crowd, whereas the likes of ‘Arcady’ and ‘Last Of The English Roses’ seem to simmer them.
If you compare the crowds, The Libertines have a strong lad demographic; it’s the only gig I have ever been too which deployed sniffer dogs in the foyer. Pete’s solo tour crowd were mild, borderline bored. Maybe they expected some more Libertines classics, or for Pete to roll out the Babyshambles back catalogue, but they certainly weren’t fully engaged.
Pete carried himself well, however, and felt a lot more comfortable on his own than he was with the Libertines a couple of months ago. Overall, it was an enjoyable setlist. A very interesting way to see a man who is so mired in controversy, addiction and trauma. If this is his rebirth, it is a step in the right direction.