The Libertines in Hyde Park: live review

A disruptive crowd can't stifle the mad energy of the indie heroes' reunion

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Time Out Ratings :

<strong>Rating: </strong>4/5

© Steve Cook

‘Stop throwing fireworks!’ shouts bassist John Hassall with a frown slapped across his mush. We’re only half way through the second song, ‘Boys in the Band’, and already The Libertines’ reunion set has been cut twice. Mainly due to the 60,000-strong crowd crushing each other to the point of passing out, but also the aforementioned DIY pyrotechnics. But this is a Libertines gig, after all.

When the London foursome launched themselves onto the scene in 2002, it was in a haze of snotty, fuck-you punk-rock energy. Their rebellious live shows were once synonymous with mayhem: constantly popping up in houses and  woefully small pubs, which more often than not got shut down by the po-po.

We’re clinging to the hope that the likely lads will make it through to the end. The greying bandmates, however, don’t exactly look convinced that things will go smoothly. Grimaces abound from the band as co-frontman Pete Doherty jumps on the drums to bang out The White Stripes’ ‘Seven Nation Army’ while drummer Gary Powell attempts to placate the audience. But Doherty soon leaps back to his mic for a snap, soothing rendition of The Foundations’ ‘Build Me Up Buttercup’ before his guitar stutters into ‘The Delaney’ and order is restored. Briefly.

Where once Doherty and fellow frontman Carl Barat flung themselves around as frenziedly as their riffs, now they stand stoic as ‘Time For Heroes’ is halted because fans are scaling the sound towers. Facepalm! How can they get this wayward bunch to chill out? A leapfrog – that’s what – which is exactly what Barat runs up to Doherty and does, before snatching a cursory kiss that claws a collective coo out of the crowd. Now the quartet can blast into ‘Death on the Stairs’ without abandon, and Doherty and Barat even share the same microphone like the old days. Swoon! The Libs might be slightly podgier around the edges these days, but that hasn’t slowed them down. They can still muster an adolescent outburst that echoes the hard-and-fast approach they emerged with more than a decade ago.

After the frenetic rumblings of ‘I Get Along’ close what’s been a turbulent set, the two indie legends floor each other by intensively hugging it out. And just to ensure things truly go off with a bang – albeit metaphorical – the four-piece line up at the front of the stage to thank the fans and to, er, do the hokey cokey. It’s mad and impulsive and it’s exactly the way we like our Libertines.



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