The two support bands come and go, and the people now start to really pack em in, it’s sweltering hot and the air is filled with anticipation and excitement. The front rows are mainly young women who are all squashed in tight, trying to gain eye to eye contact with their idol, chanting over and over “Pete, Pete, Pete”. We wait patiently and eventually around 9.10pm I spy a camera flash going off sidestage….he is here…it won’t be long…...the band appear, followed by a dishevelled and intoxicated Doherty, swaying around….oh here we go!
They kick off with the first track ‘Delivery’ an older Babyshambles track. He’s half slurring and mumbling throughout the song and even struggles to play his guitar properly, instead thrashing it around, but the band play on, sideways glances are noted throughout. Meanwhile the fans are going crazy, there is no doubt he is the man, it’s obvious he can do no wrong in their eyes, in fact they almost expect this. Instantly I think this gig is not going to get any better. The expectations and anticipation I had soon turn to disappointment, tinged with sadness as I look at this incredibly creative man crumbling before me. My fellow photographers have all come prepared with hoods (except me) you just never know what to expect from a Babyshambles gig, but I soldier on and brave the beer throwing and continue to get some action shots. Its mayhem, and allegedly a camera gets broken by Pete grabbing, whether intentionally or being playful who knows? Several times he just misses falling over, and after the second song which is ‘Nothing Comes To Nothing’ he tells everyone this is their last song of the night, is he messing about or is that it, at least he's managed to retain his humour…
However the show goes on but gets much worst. What brought him to this state is anybody’s guess. Despite his issues with the dark stuff, he and the band have just released this amazing third album, ‘Sequel To The Prequel’ its been spinning and turning around in my head for days, with its punk, ska and countrified feel thrown in the mix. So to find the scenario unfolding before me was a massive disappointment, especially after reading that he is fighting fit and raring to go. I check around me, to gauge responses, some are dancing, smiling, looking bemused, egging him on, throwing clothes, and beer. However I see something different, it’s a sad day, not only for the band, but everyone who has worked hard to put this tour together, not forgetting the most important people the fans, who have paid £23 and more for a ticket to see Babyshambles and their new material played live for the first time.
After the gig I didn’t want to write a review, which was negative, but it’s important to challenge and to be honest otherwise how can we make a difference? Let’s hope Doherty gives himself another kick up the arse and cleans up his act for the remainder of the tour and beyond, because a lot of people want to see him succeed where others have failed. We are rooting for you Pete if only you’ll listen and take note.
I guess the only way to look at it in the aftermath is to think of it as a moment in music history and say “I swear I was there”!
(Not all the songs were played)
Nothing Comes To Nothing
The Man Who Came To Stay
Fall From Grace
8 Dead Boys
Picture Me In A Hospital
Gang of Gin
Review/photos by Melanie Smith - more photos here: