Rochester Castle, Kent, 16/9/2021
published: 16 /
Steev Burgess watches The Libertines play a fiery set of their classic songs at Rochester Castle.
When talking to Libertines bass man John Hassall, he mentioned,"The word Albion derives from the white cliffs of Kent." Albus, Albino, you get the gist and walking through Margate, Kent, a faded dreamland of English holidays, where the painter Turner fell into the eternity of golden sunsets, TS Eliot penned 'The Wasteland', and with junk shops aplenty recycling the past, you can see why English romantics the Libertines chose this place to build a hotel and recording studio in their own image.
Rehearsals over then, it then was upstream to the Dickensian town of Rochester, with its inns and taverns clustering around the entrance to the castle brimming with Libertines fans seeking a pre-gig libation.
Long standing dreamers of Albion spoke of Peter Doherty's joining Chas 'n Dave on stage nearby one time and the thought must have crossed Doherty's mind too. As the moon rose over the castle's ramparts at the end of the night, and the boys in the band emerged from a backstage hug, he dedicated 'Time for Heroes', the final song of a scorching 21 song set, to the late Chas Hodges.
There was little time to talk between opening gambit, the band's first single 'What a Waster' and the finale, but Peter did take one moment to reflect that "This is nice, down by the river" and "I miss Margate - I miss Kent. How are you, Kent?" which was greeted with the appropriate cheers.
Partial though I am, I think It's true to say that the Libertines are tighter as a band now, playing their gritty yet poetic songs the way they always should have been heard.
With a rudimentary light show, none of the usual billowing clouds of dry ice, videos and with a simple black backdrop, the show and the songs still stood up for themselves, without being so slick that they didn't sometimes dissolve at the end into notes that didn't want to go home.
With Peter Doherty and Carl Barat dressed these days somewhere between 'Peaky Blinders' and two mates down the pub, the pair always reached the microphone to deliver those killer lines on time, while besuited 'Mr Cool' John Hassall and stripped to the waist Gary Powell kept perfect rhythm on bass and drums.
There were no new songs or real surprises on the set list, though some neglected gems from the last album were given an airing again, the line from 'Barbarians' of "the world's fucked but it won't get me down" could easily have been theme for the night amongst the seasoned revellers in the capacity crowd, but a new generation of fresh young faces clearly took pleasure in seeing the band perform the songs that made them the living legends of Albion.
Photos by Steev Burgess
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