If I was expecting some kind of Christmas theme (and I was), then the only Christmassy thing about yesterday night was the freezing cold. Despite this, the queue was twenty strong half way through the afternoon, but I chose not to join it because I wanted to be able to move by the time it came to go into the gig...
Amidst a few Santa hats and a lot of good cheer in the crowd, the first band on were The Scuzzies: a bad band name for a bad band. Four chords, strung together under a pair of average voices, in the typical way of indie punk at the moment, and perhaps always. Not impressed. The second support was a band called Gaoler's Daughter, which features 'ex-members of Larrikin Love, Littl'ans, No Picasso and Letters From London', and so makes up a collective of faces you know-you-ought-to-remember-but-don't. They were much better than the first band, with some juicy chords and interesting rhythms. They released an album recently, and it sounds like it might be quite good.
Babyshambles took their time, the crowd doing what they always do given a late Babyshambles arrival: asking fraught unanswerable questions. "Is he here? How much longer? Is he still on the drugs?" When they did come out, Pete seemed compos mentis, and it seemed they had a much better time than in March. The review I gave the 25th March Peter Doherty solo gig was mainly a review on the drunken masses in the crowd, but last night there were no such problems where I was standing, middle back. Everyone enjoyed themselves and sang along.
The highlights for me were: Stranger in my Own Skin, a new one previewed on Pete Doherty's Youtube channel which the crowd responded well to; Pipedown, with grittiness and bitterness and loud, angry chords enough to fill the decade; I Wish, because the crowd ordered it with their familiar shouting of the riff, and then it was played with great crowd participation (of course); Albion, because Peter knew almost every suburb and town outside Birmingham and listed them, to the crowd's immense appreciation, and finally, the glorious Fuck Forever, still played with all the anthemic soul which defined it in 2005.
Sedative was a let-down live, being one of my favourite Shambles songs and a beautiful little masterpiece all round. It lost some of its warmth and tenderness live, and the harmonica didn't work, I thought. That was the only song I was disappointed by, and the whole gig was just so much better than Peter Doherty in March. I think everyone on stage had a better time too, and they were decidedly not a shambles, to add to the overuse of the bad pun. It ended on curfew at ten (Babyshambles being so hardcore they don't conform to non-conformity), and the crowd poured out of the new Academy to snow.
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year all round - thus ends my first year of music blogging.