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Doherty walks alone

Kop anthem delivered to sell-out crowd as Babyshambles frontman flies solo on Hardman Street (we told you he'd turn up)<br>Words: Heather Smith. Pictures: Dave Evans

Published on August 11th 2008.

Doherty walks alone

I NEVER quite know what to make of Pete Doherty. The heroin-addicted, headline-hitting jailbird, who is renowned for his erratic behaviour, often looks as if he has been dragged backwards through a sewer with his eyes wide open, having used only his fingernails to attempt some sort of grip. Yet I also find a gentlemanly nature to him. His ability to blend placid poetry with a brutal, realistic edge has left him adored by a generation, respected and treated as some sort of god-like-genius.

One scuzzy-looking lady rocker informed us: “Pete’s downstairs, off his cake.” Great, at least he was in the building

Such enthusiasts were out in numbers on Friday night, where Doherty headlined the opening of swish new Hardman Street venue, The Studio, with an acoustic set. The queue of loyal fans gathered patiently for the 8 O’clock door, despite the fact that Doherty himself wasn’t due on until 11.30. Luckily, the support was excellent.

First up were The Lost Brothers, an adorable folk/rock duo - Bosh and Bark will gladly play your living room if you drop them an email- who are best described as the closest thing to Simon and Garfunkel that you’re likely to hear live in 2008.

In keeping with the folksy bluesy feel, Howie Payne- or Howard Eliott Payne apparently- was second on the bill. Armed with his guitar and harp, with a friend on double bass, Howie, dressed head to toe in Dylanesque denim, was brilliant. At the side of the stage, looking very much like Edie Sedgwick at a Velvet Underground gig, Candie Payne sat, singing along. Halfway through his set, he introduced the crowd to his “fantastic sister” and fresh from touring the world with Mark Ronson, she joined her brother on stage, campfire style, sharing his microphone for four enchanting songs.

Having been a sell-out on the door, fans were still pouring in and, despite the lack of gin at the bar, everybody was in good spirits. As more and more people arrived, The Studio began to feel somewhat like the Camden Town of the city. You could barely kick a plastic cup without striking a shabby-haired-wannabe-indie-band member or a stiletto-wearing-Kate-Moss-a-like-groupie. It was fascinating to watch them, bustling about, yelling “Where’s Pete?” as if they’d lost their best friend of 15 years in the crowd.

Patience was wearing thin by the time London cool-quad Gaoler’s Daughter took to the stage- which was a shame given their likeable indie sound and extraordinary enthusiasm for the stage- they could barely scrape an applause behind the growing concern of Doherty’s whereabouts. One scuzzy-looking lady rocker informed us: “Pete’s downstairs, off his cake.” Great, at least he was in the building.

As one lone microphone stood, visible only thanks to a Venn diagram style spotlight, the sense of anticipation was remarkable.

There was a moment of silence as the backing track faded and then a turbulent eruption of excitement. The cameras and mobile phones came out and so did Doherty; looking every bit the part of a Dickens caricature: trilby, overcoat, scarf, trouser-suit, shirt and tie. “Oh Paddy put the pipe down,” he began, having to soon speed up the strumming to catch the crowd who’ve gone on ahead top speed with the lyrics. Whatever you may think about Doherty, he is fascinating to watch.

After a “Happy Zero Birthday” singsong to The Studio, What Katie Did Next and Up The Bracket, the football talk began. “This was a universal football song in the ‘70s,” Doherty garbled, before beginning You’ll Never Walk Alone amid mass pantomime style booing from the blue half of the crowd. He stopped to insist he had to play the full song, revealing that he had the chords Sellotaped to the top of his guitar. Second time around, the heckling was gradually overturned by an all inclusive singalong which was quite special to see.

This is not the first time the Babyshambles frontman has left his band mates behind. Yet as the set list unfolds, you begin to wonder why he does it. Apart from the odd quirk, Doherty stuck with crowd-pleasing Libertines classics - Time For Heroes, Music When The Lights Go Out- and Babyshambles favourites like Killamangiro and Fuck Forever, which, to be honest, sound a lot better with a full band belting them out.

The crowd didn’t seem to mind, they were just grateful that their man had turned up and, for £22, they were in awe enough to fanaticise over a mere tilt of the trilby or a spontaneous string of slapdash chords.

Charming as his performance was, Doherty didn’t really do an awful lot. But then he didn’t really need to.

Pictures reproduced by kind permission of www.gigwise.com

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5 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

jackieAugust 11th 2008.

100% love

mfAugust 11th 2008.

totally agree. fine review. kept me gripped all the way through. particularly liked the description of the stiletto heeled girls, bustling about. another find for LivConf methinks.

DigAugust 11th 2008.

Horrible little man. Jim Morrison without looks, class or talent.

Tricky WooAugust 11th 2008.

Great review Heather. Keep going.

jackieAugust 11th 2008.

A Big thank you for a special night xxJackie & Shelly. (p.s love to Mick)

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