Two nights ago, the reunited Libertines held a press conference at North London pub The Boogaloo to two upcoming reunion shows at this summer’s Reading and Leeds festivals. and took questions from the press. The result was very different from what anyone expected.
The Libertines breakup was a drug-related mess, and when rumors started flying that the full band would be playing together for the first time since 2004, longtime fans were either suspicious of their motives or downright pissed off; they don’t want their fond memories of The Libertines tainted. And after Julian Casablancas made the mistake of admitting that The Strokes’ were only playing their upcoming summer gigs because they’d been offered too much money to turn them down, the band’s fans would not be an easy crowd to win back.
So when the fateful question was asked – are The Libertines back for good or just for this £1.2 million pair of shows? – Wednesday night, when the press conference was at its tensest, Carl put the mic into Peter’s hand and then pushed it up to his mouth.
Doherty explained that things had gotten messed up in the past, but “looking back on it, we actually did produce things we’re all so proud of, and we just want to get back to that. I’m dying just to play some of them songs with the boys, get some new things done.”
Shortly after the press call, they played a few old songs. The weird atmosphere in the room suddenly disbanded. Whereas before everyone had been politely stood at the back of the room, keeping their distance, everyone now surged forward and stood on chairs. Suddenly it wasn’t a boring press call, it was a Libertines gig, and it was like they’d never been away.
After videos of the performance starting appearing online and moving across Facebook and message boards, fan reaction was immediate and surprisingly positive. The evident affection between Pete and Carl seemed to warm fans up to the notion of a reunion. The BBC and Sky News ran clips of it all night long, reaching newer fans as well as those people who were under the impression that Pete was only famous for having once dated a supermodel. Today NME – an early champion of The Libertines who selected Up the Bracket as the 15th best album of all time – is brimming with Libs content yet again.
Whatever happens in front of the huge crowds at Reading and Leeds this summer, the Libertines at least got this right. Of course the Libertines want that million plus paycheck. But the sight of two old friends playing together in a small pub is what got through to people, and apparently, a hell of a lot can be forgiven for such a thing.