The Libertines are back with a raucous review, marking the return of chaotic indie heroes.

Estimated read time 2 min read

‘Good evening, Stockton-on-Tees!” yells Peter Doherty, as streams of lager and items of clothing fly over the tiny but wonderfully raucous crowd. Tickets sold out in minutes, and people hurl their drinks, bellow along, climb on each other’s shoulders and chant the name of drumming powerhouse Gary Powell. The Libertines are touring small venues to preview All Quiet on the Eastern Esplanade, their first album in nine years and one that brings elements of reflection and maturity.

During their early days, the Libertines were at the forefront of the indie rock boom of the early 2000s when they played at clubs like this one. Today, they occasionally perform at arenas and have a troubled history of meltdowns, a 10-year hiatus from 2004 to 2014, and frontman Doherty’s well-known struggles with drug addiction. Their first song from the new album, “Run Run Run,” combines lyrics about leaving the past behind with the familiar and catchy style of their earlier hits. The powerful “Night of the Hunter,” which opens with the lines “love and hate, tattooed on the knuckles round the handles of a blade,” incorporates a melody from Swan Lake and showcases the band’s ability to still tap into a gritty and dark world of crime and violence, drawing inspiration from Charles Dickens’ works and turning it into something poetic and romantic.

According to reports, Doherty has replaced heroin with French cheese and now possesses a Dickensian charm. Meanwhile, Carl Barât remains as lively as ever. Despite the ups and downs of their friendship, the co-frontmen’s stage chemistry endures. Interestingly, they no longer perform “Can’t Stand Me Now” while gazing into each other’s eyes.

The latest release, Shiver, trades their previous chaotic style for a more refined sound, yet the live performance still has moments of disarray. There are on-stage discussions, missed cues, and even a song that falls apart. However, crowd favorites like Time for Heroes, What Became of the Likely Lads, and Don’t Look Back Into the Sun cause uproarious celebrations, showcasing the band’s career. They are always on the brink of success or failure, and part of the excitement is predicting what will happen next.

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