Back to basics for The Libertines – but it is their choice. A band who like most, started out playing intimate grass roots venues back in the day, but they progressed to arenas. Today though, craving the connection between band and audience and being able to see most of the punters in the room for this “intimate” tour to plug the next album.
The Libertines fourth studio album: “All Quiet On The Eastern Esplanade” is named after the address of the hotel the band own in Margate, and is due for release on 8th March 2024 via EMI.
The four-piece gathered from their homes in France, Denmark, Margate and London for four weeks during February and March 2023 and finished off over seven days at La Ferme de Gestein Studios in Normandy, with additional production and mixed by Dan Grech-Marguerat (Lana Del Rey/Liam Gallagher/Paul McCartney).
They created 11 new songs with songwriting credits shared among the four band members. Surely a shoo-in for a top spot in the UK album chart after whetting fans’ appetites with a slew of singles and this sold out tour of fairly small venues.
Plus a nine year wait for a new long player from them. The recent very well put together Louis Theroux documentary on Peter will not have hurt the band’s profile either.
The album was produced by Dimitri Tikovoï (the Horrors, Charli XCX, Becky Hill) and recorded at the Albion Rooms in Margate [the band;s hotel]. “All Quiet On The Eastern Esplanade” was conceived by Peter and Carl during September last year in Jamaica, where the pair rediscovered their songwriting chops.
The Libertines are Peter Doherty: vocals/guitar, Carl Barât: vocals/guitar, John Hassall: bass and Gary Powell: drums. The band have released three albums: “Up The Bracket” (2002); “The Libertines” (2004); and “Anthems For Doomed Youth” (2015).
Peter and Carl formed the band in 1997, which split in 2004 for a decade-long hiatus, apart from a one-off reunion in 2010. Back together now since 2014.
Derby is gig # 5 of 11 dates on the ‘Albionay Tour.’ The biggest venue so far with a 500 capacity here, the tour kicked off in Stockton and then to Liverpool, Milton Keynes and Cardiff. After Derby it’s Lincoln, before February dates in Falmouth, Southampton, Stoke, Leeds and Glasgow. They also played two warm-up shows in Margate in December. All dates are sold out.
Derby fans get 16 songs – including the three-song encore – and they deliver five from the forthcoming 11 track new record. It is the first time the band have been back to Derby in more than 20 years; Peter was in the city in 2021 for a solo gig. January 2024 is 20 years to the month The Libertines dropped their hugely influential self-titled hit album.
Derby set list
Up The Bracket
The Likely Lads
Night Of The Hunter
The Boy Looked At Johnny
Music When The Lights Go Out
Can’t Stand Me Now
What Katie Did
Death On The Stairs
Time For Heroes
Good Ole Days
Don’t Look Back Into The Sun
Often when a big name band or artist decide to do much smaller gigs than they need to, for a neat bit of publicity or warm-up for bigger stuff, there can be an aloofness, an arrogance and a bit of a subliminal attitude wafting from the stage; that this is somewhat beneath them to be there.
Adopting a playing-by-numbers auto-pilot mode to get through the gig as fast as they can, and get back to the five star hotel in their fancy tour bus or chauffeur-driven flash motor. Not for The Libertines. None of that shizzle…They are with us and we are with them – all the way. [Lots of family, friends and VIPs on the lengthy guest list tonight.]
There is no hiding place on this tiny stage for the four of them; no security barriers/”pit” between fans and band. The boys seem chilled and well up for it, but calm and collected and perhaps a new-found maturity.
Not much room for Peter and Carl to get together around one microphone for vocals as they often do. Previous gigs on this tour the fans have gone a bit postal, lobbing beer and items of clothing at the stage and spending the whole set moshing like hell. Much more restrained here, but the fans still lapping it up. They get all the classics and are teased with some new stuff from the album too – most of which sound like future classics to my ears.
The first of three single releases, “Run, Run, Run”, the opener of the new record, popped up third in the set in Derby. Latest single, “Shiver” comes half way through the set – a really lovely and poignant song co-penned by Carl and Peter. A softer side to their usual material.
“Peter had a song and I had a song and we mashed them up and did it collaboratively,” Carl says. Peter adds: “I would probably find it difficult to work out who did what because we were both there the whole time through its creation. It should really be called ‘The Last Dream Of Every Dying Soldier’, but everyone liked the title ‘Shiver’.”
The video for Shiver is set at a seaside funeral of a pearly king, shot in stark black and white, starring The Libertines in their sharpest charcoal threads alongside a cast of several characters who appear on the sleeve art for “All Quiet On The Eastern Esplanade.”
The video was directed by Alex Brown (La Roux / James Blake) and shot in Cliftonville, Margate and at The Libertines-owned hotel The Albion Rooms. It is the third instalment in a series of Margate-themed videos, following on from first single “Run, Run, Run” and “Night Of The Hunter”.
Lots of high points tonight in the set for me: “What Katie Did”, “Music When The Lights Go Out” and “Can’t Stand Me Now” are just three. Fan faves. “Time For Heroes”, “What Became Of The Likely Lads” and the beloved live staple”Don’t Look Back Into the Sun” too.
The band aided by the circa 500-strong backing singers trying to raise the roof – who even know the words to some of the newer stuff that has been aired as singles.
Oh, there’s also the fab “The Boy Looked At Johnny”, debut album title track “Up The Bracket”, “Night Of The Hunter”, the second single from the imminent new album, and the excellent new one, “Mustang”.
The room was hot, as rammed as a tin of sardines and loud. But we all forgot this was the day of rest; a Sunday and a school night. This was The Libertines in an East Midlands small club, live, in the flesh, and as up close and as personal/intimate as it gets for a big name band.
The chilled French life and being married with a small child clearly suits a sober Mr Doherty – soft drinks on stage tonight – and he seemed content in his own skin.
Every time anyone writes about this man they bang on about drugs and booze and wild antics and Kate Moss and murder conspiracy theories and the same old tired blah blah blah…
Not me! It is all about the music. Thankfully I am not a tabloid hack sniffing out another sad expose. Leave the man alone FFS.
This is what he should be doing and it is obvious to a blind man that this is what he lives for. Cannot wait for the new album and I’d lay a big bet that is the start of an exciting new lease of life for this band – and for the friendship and writing partnership of Peter and Carl. Me and many, many fans around the world really do hope so…
- Support x 2 tonight came from Leicestershire’s Vona Vella and Burton upon Trent’s The 76 Club.
Words: Emma Ledwell
Photos: Rowen Lawrence