I started this like, at the weekend, and finally finished it tonight. Personal statements and unis and what not... but I told Laura I would finish it, so here it is ->
I Guess What I’m Trying To Say Is... I Love Carl.
I was very satisfied by The Libertines’ comeback when I watched their Reading set on BBC Three, especially as I’d convinced myself Pete would die just moments before he set foot on stage. My friend had a bet on that the whole band wouldn’t even make it to Reading; I think he’s now £10 in debt. Those who know me well enough would now be making the joke I was only satisfied because of Mr Carlos Barat. And, yes, that was an added bonus. I still believe he is the only man who can pull of black skinny jeans successfully, but that is not the point.
From what I could tell on my tiny TV, the boys in the band (had to get that in somewhere) were tight and sharp on stage. The set was tight, despite the power blip in the middle, and the music was tight, they looked like a band at the peak of their career (“peak” meaning a successful second album, two or three singles in). Every member gave the impression they wanted to be there, enjoying the experience, enjoying each other’s company. There was so much bromance between Pete and Carl that I was surprised they didn’t burst into some kind of passionate musical love fusion.
Give Pete his due, after the extent he has been through since The Libs’ initial split back in 2004, he did come out enthusiastic and confident, looking his healthiest I’ve seen from the press in a long time. It was clear he was already slightly drunk though, but that didn’t stop him from politely asking the crowd to help each other out and not to stand on each other’s heads. Good boy.
What my dad and I noticed (because my dad’s cool and hip like that) was that Pete has pretty much gained house hold name status through the British press, and hence if asked by your grandmother how he initially became famous, you would naturally say he was the front man of Babyshambles and previously The Libertines.
However, in reality, it’s Carl Barat who is ultimately the linchpin of The Libs. Carl’s energy and stage presence was unbeatable, taking centre stage with a casual walk of confidence. Those die hard Libs fans would know that Carl Barat is a keen actor as well as musician. Pete loves the microphone, yet his vocals are not half as clear and strong as those of Carl’s (we will blame it on the fags and booze). But what it was that stuck us was how “gig fit”, as my dad put it, Carl and Gray Powell are. Both looked healthy and strong, holding up the performance by bringing a vital spark of energy to the stage. Barat and guitar bounced across the stage with ease and if you attached some kind of electrical converter to Powell’s arms, you could have powered the whole of Reading AND Leeds. Just watching Powell behind his drum kit wore me out. Phwaor. And let’s not forget good old John. I know he never looks too enthusiastic, but he can play and never lets side down; a reliable, strong and essential backbone to the band.
The same couldn’t be said for Pete however. By the time I Get Along arrived at the end of the set, if Barat didn’t have him in a lover’s embrace, Pete would have comfortably collapsed to the stage floor and slept through the rest of the festival. A number of times he disappeared to sit behind his amp, wipe his forehead and sip his pint. If all four members of the band took this approach to their Reading come back, you may as well go down to your Local’s open mic night.
I guess what I am trying to say is yes, the set, the comeback, the whole performance and band themselves were outstanding, considering the difficulty of the past 6 years or so, and I give full praise to them for how tight and just in general awesome their whole comeback has been so far. In fact, the whole reunion has broken the laws of music physics. However, the driving force clearly shone through. Maybe, if it wasn’t for the stronger members of the band, mentally and physically, the whole thing would have been hanging on the edge of a complete cock up. I seriously doubt Pete could have made it without the loving support of Carl. Although Carl and Pete are the musical/lyrical foundations, Carl, Gary and John are the driving force, the physical foundations of The Libertines and always have been. When Pete went AWOL in 2004 they carried on (with later fellow Dirty Pretty Things member of Carl and Gray’s, Anthony Rossomando on guitar) regardless. At Reading 2010 it was obvious that these three members are still the rocks for Pete to lean on, holding up the performance with an incredible amount of energy; I couldn’t help but get the feeling they needed to be as tight as they were just in case Pete slipped up. Overall though, well played boys, I look forward to seeing more. I especially hope it lasts out long enough until next summer. I’ve already booked a 2011 Reading ticket. A Libertines’ encore would be quite nice. Not a G ‘n’ R one though. I heard Axle was a right tosser.
Left: Carl Barat. Right: Tosser