Since their reunion, The Libertines have been promoted to some of the biggest stages in the country. Headline sets at Reading and Leeds, sold out shows in Hyde Park, and just two weeks ago, Prenton Park in Merseyside, featuring special guest Jeremy Corbyn. Tonight, one half of their co-vocalist team, Carl Barat, brings his band The Jackals to a more intimate surrounding.
Old school Libertines fans who were clearly “there” in the early 2000s could be spotted around the much beloved Brudenell Social Club prior to Barat’s headline set. People wearing t-shirts with their eyecatching stencilled logo emblazoned on the front, and, of course, one or two people sporting those iconic red British navy jackets. Other people were wearing the names of the Libertines’ contemporaries on the front of their t-shirts, such as The Strokes and Black Rebel Motorcycle Club. If it weren’t for these people being just that bit further into their thirties, it could have easily been a scene from 2002.
Kicking off proceedings was support group LOCK, a group co-fronted by Barat’s girlfriend Edie Langley and her sister Gita. They brought their brand of electro guitar pop, a perfect combination of darkness and infectious melody, to the stage. Sounding a little bit HAIM, a little bit Chvrches, with the odd bit of New Order thrown in, the evening began on a very catchy note.
Next up was BlackWaters, who were sonically similar to the sort of group who would have supported the Libertines back in the day. A very energetic set from these young garage punks, the sound was loud and boisterous, and the performance was well suited to a small venue like the Brudenell. For the last song, vocalist Max Tanner and guitarist David Carpenter strolled around the crowd like it was nothing. An impressively confident set.
Carl Barat took to the stage in his customary leather jacket and vest, receiving a hero’s welcome, and launched straight into ‘Victory Gin’, a song which recaptures the spirit of Radiohead’s ‘Just’, before going onto ‘Glory Days’, it’s reggae-style guitars ringing nicely around the venue. Much of the set was heavily focussed on material from the Jackal’s 2015 debut album ‘Let It Reign’, with every song on the record being included. The Dirty Pretty Things-esque ‘Summer In The Trenches’, shouty chorus infused ‘March of the Idle’, and slower number ‘Let It Rain’ were all performed with the vigour one can expect from a frontman as seasoned as Barat. Songs from The Jackals’ newest EP ‘Harder They Fall’ were also thrown in, with the heavier sounding ‘Doctor Doctor’ being a particular highlight.
The onstage banter was sparse, but Barat was keen to remind the crowd where we all were. Shouting “Yorkshire!” into the microphone on a number of occasions which inevitably led to enthusiastic chants about the county – which Barat commented is the home of “proper tea” – going up. The other members of the group played very professionally, with guitarist Billy Tessio even taking lead vocals for ‘Sister’, a very Arcadian Dream-esque move for a solo artist.
Songs by Dirty Pretty Things and The Libertines were used sparingly, but when they dropped, they received a huge response from the crowd. From the Dirty Pretty Things corner, ‘Bang Bang You’re Dead’ – sans trumpet intro – received a huge cheer and ‘Gin and Milk’ got the crowd moving, while Libertines fan favourite ‘Death on the Stairs’ kicked off the encore. As for the set closer, what else would it have been other than ‘I Get Along’? The iconic ‘Up The Bracket’ swansong sounded as powerful as ever, and as usual the crowd passionately yelled the “fuck ’em!” in the bridge back at the band. Things were brought to a close with Barat throwing his vest into the crowd, and bassist Adam Claxton partaking in a bit of crowdsurfing.
An energetic performance from one of the most respected figures in post-millennium British rock, which consisted of him doing what he does best.