Around 15 months since the split of The Libertines Mk. II, and even longer since the expulsion of a certain Peter Doherty, Carl Barat is back with a new group under the moniker of his London club night Dirty Pretty Things.
Alongside Barat, original Libertines stick man Gary Powell remains in place, as does guitarist Anthony Rossomando, Doherty’s original stand-in. Didz Hammond, formerly of The Cooper Temple Clause, has been drafted in on bass duties, to create something of an indie super group.
All this has made DPT one of 2006’s must see acts – are they better than The Libertines? Are they better than Babyshambles? Can Barat cut it on his own? Are they going to be massive? Before these questions could be answered, however, two other new groups, very much in the raucous, shambolic punk mould of The Libertines – Louie and Humanzi – had the task of warming up the expectant crowd.
Louie, a sextet from Yorkshire, were first up: on stage for what couldn’t have been longer than 20 minutes, they were a shining example for any band looking to really mean what they play. With two aggressive, shouting vocalists, two guitars, a bass and some suitably tight drumming, this was an impressive noise that recalled classic 70’s punk bands like Buzzcocks and The Clash. Their short songs packed a vicious punch, and should they continue to play gigs with such passion and perhaps work a little on variation, big things almost certainly beckon.
The same couldn’t really be said for Irish rockers Humanzi. Clearly a group trying to jump on the leather jacket, beer-swigging, punk ‘n’ roll bandwagon, this bunch are they very definition of a generic indie band. Of course they’ve got some half decent tunes, but they didn’t for a moment sound original or at all convincing, and on tonight’s strong bill, seemed horribly out of their depth. “Come on, get your shit together”, they sang repeatedly on their last track – your words guys, not ours.
By now the room was packed as far as is legally possible for the return of Barat to these parts for the first time since The Libertines graced this very stage just over three years ago. Although arriving a little late, any thoughts of this turning into some sort of Babyshambles-like freak show were rapidly dispelled as soon as opening number Deadwood kicked into action. Superbly tight and overflowing with energy, it was quite simply a thrilling opener.
The other tracks that have entered the public domain, via bootlegs or otherwise, sounded equally good. You Fucking Love It is a riot inducing, sing-along anthem in waiting, whilst The Enemy, featuring tightly wound riffs, heavy drums and a dramatic, speeded up ending, was another high-octane highlight. And that’s not to mention forthcoming single Bang Bang You’re Dead, which already sounds as familiar as many of the Libertines’ finer moments.
Speaking of which, Barat couldn’t resist the temptation to include a handful of tracks penned by his former band – Death On The Stairs, France and set closer I Get Along were all dropped in, and for their short duration, it felt like 2002 all over again.
But perhaps these songs, although sounding as fantastic as ever, come attached with a little too much nostalgia for comfort. You just want Doherty to emerge on stage, and when he of course doesn’t, it’s a tad disappointing. Still, DPT have more than enough good tracks to make it on their own steam, and as long as they don’t over indulge in the past, there’s no reason why they can’t go on to be as big as you know who, and indeed far bigger than you know who.