15/12/19 – The O2 Academy, Birmingham.
I clearly remember the moment I bought tickets for this gig. I’d been battling with myself for weeks over which venue to go for and whether or not the dates would suit, but finally, there in front of my eyes; the support act was announced. Trampolene. It was a no-brainer. I had to go. I quickly scoured the list of dates for the nearest location and any available tickets. Birmingham, 15th December. Honestly, I didn’t even hesitate. I quickly snapped up tickets, before I was even able to let out a sigh of relief.
With my tickets secured, my excitement only grew. As you all know it’s no secret that I adore Trampolene, and the thought of them and The Libertines hand in hand, one gig, one night. It was just too good.
I would be lying if I said I didn’t feel a little nervous as the event grew closer. The Libertine’s crazy gig reputation certainly has been no secret over the years. Even their recent night in Glasgow’s Barrowlands attracted media attention, after Pete hurtled a microphone stand off-stage, hitting a fan in the face. I made a mental note to myself: don’t stand too close.
As none of you will be surprised though, where did I find myself on the night? Yes, you’ve guessed it, right in front of Pete Doherty.
In my usual fashion, I was running a little tight for time before the gig. I’d actually arrived in Birmingham first thing that morning, but after spending most of my day sightseeing and getting ready for the evening (without mentioning the fact I may have also spent too much time drinking cocktails in a nearby bar), I was inevitably late. However, of course I was absolutely determined to make it in time for Trampolene. So, after a quick dash to the venue, thankfully I managed to get in and secure a place near the front.
The crowd had turned up in full force, and I could feel the excitement that was filling the room to capacity level. The floor was packed; the balconies were rammed. It was busy, but people were chatting and laughing. Honestly, I was pleased that it was such a lovely atmosphere. My nerves from earlier melted away, and I was left with nothing but euphoria when Trampolene took to the stage.
As the familiar chords from ‘It’s Not Rock & Roll’ vibrated around the room, I was reminded ever so gloriously why I absolutely adore Trampolene’s live performances. I was in a constant state of awe watching Jack on stage, Wayne’s bass playing was nothing short of sublime, and new drummer Jay seriously impressed me. Watching Trampolene on stage, made everything feel all that more homely. I was at one with the crowd and the band, singing every lyric back to them. Trampolene really brought the night to life for me. As the set list rolled on to favourites such as ‘You Do Nothing for Me’ and ‘Alcohol Kiss’, you could really see Trampolene kick full-force into action. I’ve fallen under their spell way before now, but to see a new crowd and people that have never had the pleasure of seeing them before, falling under their spell too. It was really special. Although, how Jack coped without even a single attempt at a stage dive or not climbing a piece of stage equipment that night, I will never know.
After a short interlude and a dodgy attempt at stand up comedy from another support which fell flat. It was time. The Libertine’s roared onto the stage. Dodgy comedy attempts fizzled away. The crowd went wild. It was wonderful to see Carl, and Pete in particular, looking so well. Talk about dapper. They looked fantastic, and it was a joy to see them performing so beautifully after all this time. It is no secret that life has taken its toll on the band, but they’ve battled through it all commendably, with their heart and soul packed marvelously into their live performances.
The night was a lot calmer than the craziness I was expecting after reading articles on previous gigs of late. However, I enjoyed this. It was nice to be in a crowd where I was not pushed and shoved within an inch of my life. I had a space close to the barrier, and for once I didn’t feel like I was going to die. I could appreciate the gig in its pure beauty, and have the room to dance and sing, without feeling like I was sandwiched amongst chaos. The Libertine’s shone in all their glory. I honestly felt like sunbeams were coming from that stage. Not only from the band, but due to the fact that it was lit wonderfully. All too often bands are lost under dark or harsh lighting, but the O2 got it spot on, and I feel that’s worth praising. I know I was lucky enough to be at the front, but I don’t think there could have been a spot where anyone had a bad view.
I’m sure this goes without saying, but of course The Libertine’s set was fantastic. Without the risk of being too smug, I was overjoyed that they played every one of my favourite songs. I really felt like the rest of the crowd enjoyed it just as much too, as everyone was singing and having fun. From the madness of ‘Horrorshow’ to the calmness of ‘You’re My Waterloo’; the main set was stunning. Moments where the band gathered around the piano really pulled at my heartstrings. The relationship between Pete and Carl, although turbulent at times, was gorgeous that night. Needless to say, the encore, oh The Libertines encore, it was incredible. I cried when I heard ‘Music When The Lights Go Out’, and then they hit me with ‘What Katie Did’. Honestly, it couldn’t have been any more perfect.
I really felt as though this gig was a once in a lifetime experience. To be that close to The Libertines, and to see them at a time where they looked so well and clearly happy to be together with us all. It was so, so lovely.
To summarise, the band were phenomenal, but I must say what attracted me most in reflection of this gig was the heart of the crowd. Even though The Libertines gigs and antics sometimes attract eyebrow-raising attention; The kindness of their fans and the love they share for the band and each other is honestly admirable, and really highlights the spirit of live music and looking out for each other. If you’re on Facebook there are some truly wonderful Libertines groups you can become members of. I’ve placed the links below, so please check them out once you’re done reading.
To explain a little further, my love for The Libertines has really grown initially from being a part of Trampolene’s fan base. Many fans of Trampolene have discovered them through The Libertines, but I’m unusual in being the other way around. Don’t get me wrong, of course I knew the hits of The Libertines, but it’s only since meeting Trampolene that I’ve delved further into their projects and have listened to Pete and The Libertines more.
Earlier this year, I saw Pete Doherty on his solo adventures with The Puta Madres, which features Trampolene’s very own Jack Jones. I only fell more in love with his music as a result of this. If you haven’t yet listened to Pete Doherty as a solo artist or his debut album with The Puta Madres, then I strongly urge you to. Both are equally beautiful and different.
From this gig, and onwards, I am proud to say that I now know what it means to be a Libertine.