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Live review

The Libertines 

British Summer Time Festival, Hyde Park

added: 7 Jul 2014 // gig date: 7 Jul 2014
reviewer: Marco Gandolfi

The Libertines - British Summer Time Festival, Hyde Park - Printable version
With the odd plastic bottle flying up into the small Ferris wheel beside the stage, The Rifles tore into their set on Saturday afternoon at the British Summer Time Festival in Hyde Park. Or at least I’m pretty sure they did. The Summer Stage was a small band stand at the far end of the site with a couple of speakers my iDock system could rival; so the huge audience that had gathered could hear nothing more than a faint thumping bass line and the top of Joel and Luke’s head if stood on tip toes.
If it wasn't for the crowd singing we wouldn't even have know what song was being played but we joined the sprawling mass happily on “The Great Escape.” Having got there late, we had no chance of getting near the front. The stage was far too small for the audience this well underrated band pulled. Still the sing-a-long and chat with fellow Rifles fans was worth the excursion.

On the Great Oak stage The Pogues pulled a well-oiled crowd up for the odd jig. Opening with “Streams of Whiskey” Shane McGowan and co. brought a cheery smile to the proceedings.
Wearing a white shirt, blue suit, and sporting a few red sores around his mouth, Shane was pretty much incomprehensible when talking, but he could stand upright, still remembers the songs and he's still here, which is a small miracle in itself.
“A Pair of Brown Eyes” and “Dirty Old Town” received welcome cheers and during my personal favourite, “Sally Maclennane”, I was happy to see the beer tray head smashing retained in the set.
“Rainy Night In Soho” hit an emotional high and “The Wild Rover” had the fans country dancing all over the park. An ‘incident’ at the front halted the show as paramedics tried to get to someone. It seemed people were getting hurt in crowd surges to the left of the stage. Resuming for the last number ‘Fiesta’ they left the stage to deserved applause.

It didn't take long for the crowd chaos to return to the main stage after The Libertines kicked into their set with ‘Vertigo’ Carl sporting the famed red military jacket. The Likely lads had to be stopped and crowd told to "calm down".
“Campaign Of Hate” was again suspended for crowd surges with the odd thrown flare adding to the confusion and it was clear the set was not going to be allowed to rev up to full throttle.

Wearing black jeans and t-shirt with a chunky silver chain Pete looked like he’d lost a little of that weight he bulked on in Paris. Carl clearly looked the better of the two, his shoulder length hair blowing in the breeze now stripped down to a black vest.
There were heart-warming and slightly bizarre interludes with Carl summersaulting over Pete’s back, the pair clearly at ease with each other. But It was apparent that this gig was never going to run smoothly, The truth is, Libertines gigs never do - after all they transformed shambolic performances into an art form. But “Music When The Lights Go Out” and “What Katie Did” had the crowd unified in song and Pete’s harmonica performance on “Can’t Stand Me Now” got a cheer with all four band members toasting its end with plastic pints.
The electricity that filled the air when they used to collide with each other on stage has gone but the resonance of the music they created is still here to see in many of the bands that followed. Frequently joining on the mics, they shared many moments and “What A Waster” brought the crowd to fever pitch, singing in unison.
As Carl launched into a quite solo moment the stage manager again took to the stage, forcing Carl to relay "if you don't stop climbing the towers, we cant play, for fucks sake stop climbing the fucking towers!".
Continuation issues blighted the set giving the overall feel of a huge practice session that we were all lucky to witness. “I Get Along” provided a fitting ending with Carl and Pete in a frenzied hug which saw them fall over and continue on the stage floor.
A vocal rendition of the ‘Hokey Cokey’ and jointly read war poem closed the set with Pete saying “We honour the dead who gave their lives for us on the centenary. I thought it was scary coming on here tonight but leaving Kings Cross with a rifle strapped to your back...”
Dockery strode out to the mic a few minutes after having left the stage, attempting to stop the 60,000 strong crowd making their exodus, but alas the plug had been pulled and his words were unamplified. Then the lights went out.
A welcome, if chaotic return for one of the greatest British bands.

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4 stars

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