Neither Angel Nor Demon Peter Doherty Is Haunted By Ghosts More
Written By Michael Wood Tuesday, March 24th, 2009
Pete Doherty at O2 Academy, Leeds
On stage with an acoustic guitar and a hat duplicated six or seven types by acolytes on the audience witnessing Pete "Peter" Doherty in the flesh is a little like going to a football match and noticing the the opposing number nine is Roy of the Rovers.
So deep into the psyche of the nation is the man - who at thirty looks very much like the boy - that one easily forgets he is more made of bone than he is of tabloid headline. Perhaps it is that that sees him so keen to redress his early work and why when he slides into Music When The Lights Go Out he does so with a diction and annunciation he never managed in The Libertines. It suggests a lack of confidence in the man they tell us is Cocky Pete. I knows you like this one, it seems to say, so I'm going to do it properly.
Doherty's touring band - who took turns doing three song turns as support - include Graham Coxon who adds a clarity to the guitaring behind the main man who at times is joined by a string quartet, four auxiliary guitars and an instrument that resembles a large mouth organ. These trappings are most useful as the singer plays through his newer work which dominates the evening and is enjoyable if only for the exploration it represents.
1939 Returning is a mellow recall for England's green lands and the grit of war time camaraderie while Arcady struggles with the perversions of the message in a mediated age - "See how quickly twisted it becomes/When the cat gut binds my ankles to your bedstead/That ain't love, no that ain't love". He is a man trying to make his Your Arsenal.
Comparisons with that album's author are not dimmed by the draping of a Union Flag over a speaker and while Doherty has the elements of Morrissey - the famed former band, the patriotism, the polarising press - he lacks the edge of charisma which is not to say he is not good to watch and - when rambling through Kilimanjaro and Down In Albion - satisfyingly enjoyable for all but at the moment the honest songster Peter is not bigger than revitalising The Libertines nor than the public antics of Babyshambles and cannot quite shake off his ghosts.
To underline this point he ends the set with Time for Heroes and the encore with Fuck Forever which leave all happy as the boy doffs his hat and exits. The problem with Peter - such as it is a problem - is that he is not the devil of the press nor the angelic faced best songwriter and performer of his generation but something between the two and probably towards the latter.
This post is about Pete Doherty