Babyshambles Come To Exeter University

by Miles Rowland and Tom Elliott

Miles Rowland For those nay-sayers convinced that Pete Doherty had lost it (I was on the verge of becoming one myself), I categorically have to answer them after seeing his band last night: he absolutely hasn’t.

Following swashbuckling support act The Dash, featuring heavy guitar and a talented frontman, the crowd were suitably warmed up for the main act. Arriving predictably late, beer in hand, Doherty and Babyshambles launched straight into a fine rendition of second album favourite, Delivery. It was immediately clear that the frontman has lost none of his trademark swagger and irresistible stage presence; his vocals were surprisingly spot on given the alcohol and the fact that Exeter was his penultimate tour date.

Babyshambles’ recent third effort, Sequel To The Prequel, was arguably their most consistent album to date, and this showed with the wealth of newer material in their set. The raucous Fireman and Maybelline sat up very well alongside the older Carry On Up The Morning in the most entertaining portion of the gig when the crowd went crazy. Babyshambles sounded huge live, and songs which didn’t stand out so much in their recorded forms like Seven Shades and Penguins seemed to gain a new dimension with louder guitar and the mere amazement of seeing Doherty nail these numbers in the flesh. More sensitive songs like Farmer’s Daughter were well received and performed delicately which demonstrated versatility, and the set ended with first album classic Fuck Forever, showing what a wealth of good songs the frontman has penned since his Libertines days.

There was a surreality surrounding the whole thing - maybe it was seeing Doherty staggering around on stage, occasionally stopping to skip with the mic lead or chuck an empty champagne bottle at the wall, or maybe it was the violinist and trombonist who randomly entered the fray at various points in the gig. Mainly though, it was simply the joy at seeing Babyshambles flawlessly power through their set with evident delight.

Pete Doherty owned the Great Hall last night with consummate ease.

Tom Elliott He’s one of the most talked about musicians in modern British culture: love him or hate him, few can deny that Pete Doherty’s performance with his band Babyshambles at the Great Hall last night was one to remember. The band were on top form and their leader showed why he deserves to be regarded as one of the most captivating frontmen around. Still buzzing from Babyhambles’ top class performance, PearShaped decided to flick back through the highlights reel and single out Doherty’s finest moments on the night that he set the Great Hall on fire.

1. Songwriting

Before we talk about the antics, it’s important to set one thing straight: the music was phenomenal. A varied set of fan favourites got the crowd moving whilst the introduction of piano solos, violins and trombones at various points through the night reminded the audience why Doherty is often referred to as a truly great songwriter and deserves to be recognised as a brilliant musician.

2. Creative microphone use

Whoever said microphones are just for singing into? It’s clear that Doherty’s picked up a few frontman tricks from his years on the road. Skipping with the cord and throwing it towards the audience were two examples of how a microphone can be a great prop on stage.

3. Audience interaction

Audience interaction is a pretty loose term but it’s probably the best way to pull together complimenting local antique shops and spraying beer/champagne everywhere. He orchestrated the long hour and forty minute set and had the crowd in the palm of his hand. Even a “Good evening Torquay” joke at the beginning was greeted with friendly jeers in a positive light.

4. A down to earth attitude

Shouty indie anthems always have the potential to bring crowds together, far too often though bands can be too aloof or serious to create the atmosphere that their music asks for. Constant interaction with the audience, band introductions and spontaneous covers helped create the party atmosphere that everybody wanted. A tribute to The Beatles with Twist and Shout got everyone moving, whilst a solo cover of Amy Winehouse’s Tears Dry On Their Own was greeted positively.

5. The music

Most importantly, the music. No doubt there were plenty of fans of The Libertines in the audience, hoping that Babyshambles might quickly sneak a version of Can’t Stand Me Now or Don’t Look Back Into The Sun into their set. As a Libertines fan myself, I can reluctantly say that I’m pleased that they didn’t do this. Bayshambles proved that they are great band with a great repertoire of songs, who in PearShaped’s opinion have just released their best album yet. The music was delivered flawlessly and for an hour and a half, the band stepped out of The Libertines’ shadow.

Final verdict: an entertaining, captivating gig with plenty of opportunities to raise a pint in the air. Forget the antics - the music was top quality and that alone is the main reason to check out Sequel To The Prequel.