There are two things that can always be expected at any gig fronted by Pete Doherty: an overhead shower of plastic cups filled with beer, and an atmosphere filled with nervous energy and the occasional moment of terror.
Babyshambles’ gig at Leeds O2 Academy was no exception. Their reunion after six years away from the music scene has been one of the most anticipated this year.
However, after reading reports of the raucous show they put on the night before in Newcastle, which saw a little worse-for-wear Doherty crowd-surfing to the point where the frenzied audience refused to give him back, making bassist Drew McConnell end the show prematurely, the atmosphere in Leeds was a little deflated.
Thankfully, the band arrived onstage just before 9.20pm, much earlier than the previous night. Doherty appeared a little more subdued compared to reports of the previous night and his energy seemed, in places, a little strained.
Launching into an excellent performance of their song Delivery, Doherty slurred words into the microphone which made his fans go wild with adoration. Predominantly playing songs from their newest album, Sequel to the Prequel, Babyshambles were in fine playing form.
By the time Doctor No was played mid-way through the set, the soaring beer cups and the sight of security guards lifting helpless fans over the barrier to save them from the human tidal wave of swaying and jumping audience members was no longer a great shock.
There was very little interaction between Doherty and the fans. In between most songs, he would sit exhaustedly on the drum riser until the next number kicked in, when he would leap into action, usually throwing his drink around the stage.
Kicking over his guitar amp and ripping his shirt brought on the inevitable chant of “Pete! Pete! Pete!” by the adoring crowd.
Although not the violent mad house some fans were, no doubt, hoping Leeds Academy would have been that night, an abundance of sweat-soaked and exhausted Babyshambles followers left the venue feeling they had certainly got their money’s worth – many just pleased to have spent an evening in the same room as one of music’s most notorious frontmen.
Gig date: September 6