Tonight is certainly a night of surprises. The first comes in the
shape of the Dizzee Rascal, who wouldn't normally be the first name to
pop up when deciding on tour support for Babyshambles, but somehow it
works brilliantly. Opening with a simmering take on 'Fix Up Look
Sharp', the east London grime star seems determined to win over a
crowd that was for the most part sceptical at best. It is, though,
impossible to deny the intensity of the set, and by the time we get to
the frankly superb 'Jus' A Rascal', the crowd is well and truly on
side. The abrasive 'Stand Up Tall' and upcoming single, 'Flex' provide further high points in this short but excellent set. A support act, by
the very definition, should warm the crowd up for the main event, and
in this respect, booking Dizzee Rascal was nothing short of inspired.
Thankfully it seems that the 'Will he turn up?' bollocks is behind
Babyshambles now that Pete Doherty is approaching something like the
straight and narrow, and focus seems to be moving more towards the
music. The fact that new album, 'Shotters Nation' is a collection of
some of the best songs released this year might help a little too.
As he leads his band out smiling, Doherty looks a different man. Gone
is the slouch. Gone is the self-pity. Gone is the air of self-hate.
The Doherty standing on the stage tonight is vibrant, dynamic, and
most of all, on form. All of a sudden I realise why Babyshambles are
playing arenas on this tour. Strip away the bullsh*t and you have a
band who have the power, and the talent, to invigorate a crowd even in
the soulless aircraft hangars of the country.
The band open with a lurching take on 'Carry On Up The Morning' to a
rapturous reception. The arena might be half empty, but the noise
suggests otherwise. Given all they have been through, you might
expect apathy to have set in amongst Babyshambles fans, but nothing
could be further from the truth, and the band are only half the show
tonight, with the action on the other side of the barrier proving to
be just as compelling. Security have a job and a half tonight, and
credit to them, they deal with the numbers coming over the barrier
It is hard not to grant 'There She Goes' with an added sense of
poignancy, give recent developments in Doherty's personal life, but
regardless of the subject matter, the number is superb tonight.
Doherty pours his heart into this song, and it would not be a surprise
if there were a few tears around the arena. The emotion and fervour
isn't just saved for this one song though. 'Delivery' is as
Libertines-esque as they come, whilst 'Unstookie Titled' proves to be
even better live than on record.
Material from 'Shotters Nation' makes up the majority of the set,
perhaps echoing the fact that it was received much more warmly than
debut 'Down In Albion', but there is still room for the highlights
from the debut album. 'Killamangiro' and the caustic 'Pipedown' gets the crowd moving, whilst 'Albion' gives the crowd a chance to show of their own vocal talents. The fantastic 'F*ck Forever' is saved for the
very end, and shows Doherty at his acerbic, nihilistic best.
So there you have it. Could it be that Babyshambles are starting to
show their true potential? If Doherty manages to stay the course, the
ending to one of the most remarkable stories in British music history
could turn out to be a good one. The tabloids will be gutted, but the
music lovers of the nation should rejoice. If tonight's performance is
anything to go by, the future is bright for the 'Shambles.
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article by: Tommy Jackson
photos by: Tommy Jackson
| published: 26/11/2007 04:37|