Peter Doherty - Hamburg Demonstrations
by Will Gamble
At the start of 2016, whilst The Libertines were having a break form touring, Peter turned up at Clouds Recordings in Hamburg at a day’s notice and ended up staying there for six months. As well as the album title obviously being influenced by the location of recording, a verse in album opener Kolly Kibber’s is entirely in German. To add to this, the title of this song is a reference to the character Kolley Kibber in Graham Greene’s novel Brighton Rock. He was an adhoc character, much like Peter, to which newspaper readers were offered money to track down – similar to Peter’s darker days when he suffered consistent pressures from tabloid newspapers. However Kibber did eventually fall in the hands of such pressure something Doherty wants to keep at bay, the fear of mortality throughout the album is re-occurent.
Flags From The Old Regime is a heartfelt recollection of ‘that night’ in 2009 with Amy Winehouse, which resulted in a video being shared to the public by a The Sun showing Peter and Amy high on drugs playing with mice. However, this song provides Peter’s viewpoint on Amy’s decline and what really affected her. Stating that she had “been up for four nights” being forced to “stand up there in front of the whole world” by her father and record label, emotionally stating, “oh Amy you won’t be coming down tonight”. The song was written whilst at a rehab centre in Thailand, a reflective time in Peter’s life attempting to finally come clean for good. This experience was perhaps summarised in the final line of the song, “I don’t wanna die anymore”.
Doherty also addresses to the terrorist attacks at the Bataclan in Paris last year, a city he has been a long-term resident. In Hell To Pay At The Gates of Heaven, he sings, “come on boys you gotta choose your weapons – J-45 or AK-47”, with the former being a type of Gibson guitar and the latter a gun. Doherty’s poetic genius comes to light in this line, referring to music and aggression as two different arts of expression – making the atrocities at Le Bataclan seem even more unjust.
One downside of the record could be seen as the lack of new material. Flags From The Old Regime, is a re-release of the version following his stint in Thai rehab two years ago; She Is Far sees the release of a much loved Libertines bootleg and there are two renditions (albeit different compositions) of I Don’t Love Anyone (But You’re Not Just Anyone). However, Peter’s work should not be condemned but celebrated. His original, self-written, lyrics combined with catchy guitar licks, makes Peter one of the greatest singers and song-writers of our generation. Peter’s work is something that should be cherished eternally.