Pete Doherty, Rythym Factory, 15th May

As always with a Pete Doherty gig the unhealthy speculation was rampant: would he turn up spiked to the veins and mumble his way through some vague song endings or maybe, just maybe this could be _the_ night of post-Libertines redemption? Pity the huge chunk of the audience who decided to leave around midnight for the last trains — they missed the gig of the year, possibly of the decade.

When the famous pork pie hat and stogie finally did shuffle onstage at 2:15am the reception was ecstatic. But breaths remained bated . . . would he speak or vomit? Alas no, Pete Doherty was compos mentis and even delivered a touching tribute to the night’s beneficiary, the late Johnny Rhythm — responsible for some of the Libertines early breaks. Coming on as he did straight after some aggressive power punk courtesy of The Scuzzies and The Paddingtons, Doherty’s gentle demeanor was instantly winning and it’s easy to see why the British public including besotted Newsnight presenters warm to him despite lurid run-ins with the tabloids.

Various Babyshambles’ numbers were dispatched with some pretty nimble guitar riffing from the man who seems to have nailed to perfection that lazy, just-in-time way of traversing the fretboard that is so crucial to the Doherty sound. Biggest cheer of the night however, came when 50% of Babyshambles ambled off and Carl Barat and Gary Powell entered stage left. With near-as-dammit the original Libertines together for the first time in ages there was pandemonium and I swear I saw one woman crying tears of joy. What had been whispered in hushed tones all evening was happening right here, right now. What Katy Did came and went and by the time Can’t Stand Me Now was dusted down there wasn’t a dry eye in the house. The line-up twisted and turned all night like a typical Libertines song but Pete remained at the eye of the storm finishing off the delerium with a belted F— Forever. The boy done good.

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