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The Libertines, The Wardrobe, Leeds. 15th February 2024

On the road again tonight. After being blown away by The Libertines in Liverpool the other week, I’ve come back for more. Tonight we’re at The Wardrobe in Leeds. What a cracking venue. It’s small, but not too small with a sunken floor, so that even if you’re on the short side, you still get a decent view. It’s busy early doors for the support, who honestly don’t do much for me, but no one leaves. In fact it just gets busier and more rammed. Turning what felt like a comfortable space into a bit of a cramped, well, Wardrobe. It certainly doesn’t feel as special as The Cavern, but stick with it because when the Libertines come on the place transforms. ‘Up The Bracket’ is an incendiary start to any set, but as they rip through it, fucking hell it’s like an explosion of body parts. Instantaneous chaos. Grown men are hugging and dancing together in utter rapture to ‘Vertigo’. They sounded great in the Cavern, but after few weeks on the road they sound even tighter. In the Libertines ramshackle sort of way of course. Pete teases nursery rhyme lines of “run rabbit run” before ‘Run, Run, Run’ kicks off. Beer drips from the ceiling, the mirrorball that’s hanging from it gets playfully spun by the taller patrons as the whole room sings. The bouncing doesn’t really let up much throughout, but everyone is at it during ‘What Became of the Likely Lads’, even John who’s usually a bit more composed with his bass. The desert soaked twang of ‘Night of the Hunter’ starts up as a chant of “Yorkshire! Yorkshire!” fades out. It’s a nice slower moment and acts as a much needed breather. Before things go mental again during ‘The Boy Looked at Johnny’, Carl pulling dissonant notes from his guitar as Gary and John, reliable as ever hold it together and we all go “La de di la de di da diddy”. ‘Shiver’ sees some space open up around me which I’m thankful for. The start of this set has been so intense, I think some are already flagging. It’s getting bloody hot too. A hundred phones come out to record shit videos that no one will ever watch of ‘Can’t Stand Me Now’ with Pete breaking out the harmonica. ‘What Katie Did’ is beautiful. It’s like a drunken singalong at the end of everyone’s collective best night out in years. Some people in here are seriously wrecked though and probably won’t remember a thing, which seems a shame. ‘Mustang’ momentarily loses us with Pete’s slightly dodgy falsetto backing vocals, but it’s not bad. It just doesn’t hold up well next to ‘Death On the Stairs’. I’ll admit I’m starting to flag myself by this point, I’ve not been this hot in a while. ‘Time for Heroes’ is the perfect set closer, but they’re not done. Gary riles everyone up with some “Yorkshire” encouragement, before some more weird Simpson’s sound bites echo from the PA. This weird distraction peppered the set in Liverpool, but its used a little more sparingly tonight. They take quite a long break, in which the crowd indulge in some good natured verses of “fuck the Tories”. Something I’ve noticed that’s happening more and more at gigs at the moment, with good reason and quite fitting on a night that see more Tory loses at the polls. The Libertines finally return with ‘Gunga Din’, a song I really didn’t like on release, but it’s aged well and feels oddly at home in a hot sweat pit. It’s that laid back groove, it sits well with the heat rising from the mass of bodies. Layers are shed for ‘What a Waster’ and the thought of stripping off completely does cross my mind. Seriously hot. ‘The Good Old Days’ finally takes over after Gary’s had his fun with a drum solo. Bloody drummers. It’s loose, sounds amazing and spirals into the Seven Nation Army bassline for a spot more Tory bashing. ‘Don’t Look Back Into the Sun’ once again rounds things off and it’s absolutely biblical. There’s no doubt that this tour of smaller club venues has been a resounding success and it’s wonderful to have them back. I’m not sure if this will be the best gig of the year, it could be close, but it might well be the hottest.


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