TVD Live Shots:
The Libertines at the
O2 Brixton Academy, 12/18

My last show for 2019 was one that I’ve waited more than three years to cover. Arguably one of the greatest live bands ever to rise from the UK, The Libertines returned to the legendary Brixton Academy for two sold-out nights of rock ‘n’ roll bliss.

The songwriting partnership of Barât and Doherty is something extraordinary and translates from studio to live show in epic fashion, although sometimes the antics of Doherty overshadow the music. That’s not necessarily a bad thing for rock ‘n’ roll, in fact many times it adds to a mystique and a legacy. I’m not celebrating or encouraging addiction here however, but Doherty’s very public struggles and honest, sometimes outrageous comments, display a vulnerability rarely seen in the music industry today.

Addiction also makes it personal for the fans. We rally around Doherty because we want him to succeed and come out on top as we all love the underdog story. I’m sure there are signs of recovery here and there, but goddamn does the media love it when they catch him doing something silly like eating a breakfast that could feed a small village or riding a Boris bike pulled by his beloved huskies at 4 in the morning. It also begs the question, how far can this relationship be pushed before breaking once again? Have they learned their lessons? For now, it seems that both Barât and Doherty have matured a bit and rediscovered the love they have for one another—and it shows big time.

It’s also hard to believe that a band that makes this much noise on stage—as well as with the critics among the music press—have only released three studio albums. Yet, ninety plus minutes of post-punk, garage rock revivalism (or whatever you want to call it) came across like a masterclass in all things rock ‘n’ roll.

Was there a bad song choice in the set? No. Was there a chance for the capacity crowd to catch their breath? Few and far between. The bottom line is that the Libertines are back, and they are not only on a mission, but they are also happy. Barât told NME last year that the writing sessions have begun for The Libertines’ fourth album, and if it arrives in time for the summer festival season, I can imagine it being a hectic year for the band.

The Libertines seem to be at the top of their game once again and drawing in new and old fans alike. I wondered to myself while watching this incredible performance if the trials and tribulations of the band over the years from the break up to the make up have empowered them to further appreciate what they have, and in this case over-deliver. Does it take a decade or two of internal conflict to bring out the best in a band or push them to their creative peaks?

Either way, these two legendary frontmen were seemingly having the time of their lives on stage that night, and everything fell into place perfectly. If you follow the band and the individuals on social media, the sincerity comes across even more. One or two mentions would be enough, but these guys say thank you and convey a sense of gratitude unlike any other band at their musical height.

I could not have asked for a better gig to wrap up the one hundred or so that I saw across Europe in 2019. For an ex-pat music fanatic living in London, I’m incredibly fortunate to see these shows, and I never take it for granted. Having finally seen three variations of the Libertines in 2019, my goal for 2020 is an interview. Let’s see if lightning can strike once again for me with this request.

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