The Babyshambles gig on Wednesday the 12th March was special in many different ways as a concert like this was a rare treat to the people of Hanover, who are mostly neglected by booking agents. But it was also the day of Mr. Peter Doherty’s 35th birthday and I had been personally invited by his crew members.
First things first. Babyshambles are currently on tour supporting their third album “Sequel To the Prequel” across Europe and visited Hanover on the second leg of the tour. The show had unexpectedly sold out a week before and the Capitol was packed with 1,800 people. The album has gotten mixed reviews but apparently no one wanted to miss out on the chance to see Peter Doherty live.
Support came from a German girl called Nessi and her half English back-up band. While her songs had an interesting dark melancholic atmosphere her stage talk was more than annoying. Between every two songs she would advertise her Facebook page, promising to accept friend requests and like profile pictures. That was just a bit too needy. In the end her good voice couldn’t make up for her rather ridiculous stage talk as she left the stage shouting “HDGDL” (German teenie speak for ‘I love you very much’) to the crowd.
I saw a lot of confused faces in the crowd because it’s very lame to write that down, yet even more to say it out loud. The coolest thing about her were basically her tattoos that covered her left arm and leg.
Then the waiting began. Because what would a Babyshambles concert be with a Peter Doherty showing up on time? The front man, who is surrounded by scandals, would surely turn up on this birthday, wouldn’t he? The crowd grew more and more impatient with every minute but after 30 minutes of waiting and 10 times re-tuning the guitars the band finally took the stage and opened with “Delivery”.
The crowd was on their feet immediately, a few (not) empty plastic cups flew towards the stage but the band didn’t give a shit about that. Not even when the cups seemed to always hit the bass player Drew McConnell instead of the front man, at whom they were most certainly aimed.
The opener song was followed by “Nothing comes to nothing” and “7 shades” and as Peter stumbled through their set, his concentration more and more vanished and he had problems performing in sync with his colleagues.
The enormous cake, delivered on stage by the venue staff, was a welcome break for the infamous songwriter. He sat down on the drum kit and took his time to munch away on a big piece of cake with his bare hands. The crowd sang “Happy Birthday” for what felt like the fifth time that night and if Peter noticed, he didn’t acknowledge the serenade, not even when the crowd started to sing a German tune.
Sitting there with his baggy trousers and shaved, short hair, the world-famous songwriter looked more like a five-year old than a rockstar. His mother was also in the house so maybe that was a nice view for her. Peter also loved reciting a poem three or four times through the set, like a good schoolboy. But maybe someone should have told him that his fly was open during the whole night.
The crowd definitely wanted to see the Peter Doherty they knew from past times and threw two hats on stage, which Pete wore through the rest of the concert. I have to admit, it did a lot to his appearance. As a thank you, he threw his mic stand into the audience. Thrice. The venue stuff loved him, really.
The crowd didn’t mind and went wild for “Pipedown” and “Killamangiro”. There was dancing, jumping, singing along and the occasional crowdsurfer, one of them being Peter himself even though his stage-diving was far from graceful, as was his dancing during the songs where he didn’t play the guitar.
The band left the crowd with “Pipedown” before they vanished for another 20 minutes before they came back to play an encore. Maybe it took them so long because they practised covers of “Blitzkrieg Bop” by The Ramones and “Time for heroes” by Peter’s old band The Libertines which they performed spontaneously. Both songs drove the audience wild and when the six song long encore was topped off by their smasher “Fuck Forever” everyone was dancing and shouting along. It didn’t even matter that Peter fucked up both verses, the iconic chorus was even more impressive.
I had the pleasure to watch the gig from the monitoring desk and it was an intense feeling watching everyone go crazy around me.
So yeah, the crowd had to put up with a belated Peter Doherty who kept throwing mic stands and plastic cups back into the audience and who barely resembled his old self, their idol (judging by the occasional Libertines-like uniforms I had spotted in the crowd), but they got a fantastic rock show as a reward.