Pete Doherty//Vicotria Hall//Geneva//30 January 2012

So I’ve just come home from a show not a concert.
And my mind is working so I dont forget all the bits.
So lets get this down on the page.

First of all what a great start to the Antigel Festival a great new intiative with a line up I highly recommend you checking out if you haven’t already.
If you want to know more about up coming events that Indie Nation recommends check it all out here. 

And what a great venue. I sat in the back of the bottom floor (because I was giving you all out pamphlets before the concert so came in late and there were not seats close to the front). And even from here the sound is clear and crisp. My friend said the balcony had a lot of resonance but I guess that’s cause Pete wanted to make people pay for looking down on him (wink).
They have a way, a way to make you pay….

The presenter starts by announcing: he is very sorry to announce…..that the people who thought Pete would not show up…were wrong. And the crowd cheers with relief.

So Pete enters and the crowd starts screaming and straight away he starts his loose, spontaneous but charismatic approach to performance. Its an acoustic gig with just him and his guitar. And there is just no denying it – the guy has got a great voice. He opens with a new song, which he charmingly announces to the crowd in very broken but understandable French that this is a new song…..which I call I don’t know. It doesn’t have a name. The crowd laps it up. Its a combination of his heavy accented clumsy French and his I-don’t-give -a-fuck approach that starts early in the gig and is a common thread throughout the concert.

And then he plays Arcady and the crowd goes wild and I must say I am rather impressed. This is Geneva, and for a Geneva concert, especially one sitting down in Victoria hall this is a lot of audience participation. I just hope this will continue . But he seems to be mastering the crowd. What a much needed boost to what is a normally a very calm audience.

And as the show goes on and he leads us through songs from all three of his careers: solo, Babyshambles and The Liberatines and the dramatics heighten. There are two ballet dancers that join him on the stage for Last of the English Roses and dance around the stage while he strums away in his guitar. The blond dancer also returns later for a solo to What Katie Did just a long enough to make a point – and later is rejoined by her brunette partner. They fan at him while he sweats heavily. Towards the end while Pete shouts out for English or Irish fans they return once again with big English flags used as capes.

In between that there is more of course: the harmonica comes out, general free walking around the stage that make you feel he may trip at an point and of course the famous Pete make-it-up-as-you-go-along approach to songs. Or more accurately make-it-up-when-you-fuck-up-the-song approach. But we still love him. Cause he clearly is drinking and cheersing to himself throughout the entire concert, including throwing a whole glass of rum and coke across the stage floor. In fact people love him so much he always gets handed presents at gigs – this time some letter with a drawing which he looks at carefully. And later a football and some chocolate by the organizer which he then decides to kick around the stage (the football not the chocolate – its Pete, you never know).  He does a couple of impressive kicks (for his level of intoxication at this point) even a few headers. He then proceeds to eat the chocolate by launching it high in the air and doing the dog-catch in his mouth. Which he then repeats but this time directed right at a tall fan in the front rows – and success – he gets in! And the crowd cheers like he just scored a goal in some important final. This guy is an entertainer.

And its not all just smoke and mirrors. He is musically smart. He changes the pace from song to song. He mixes up the types of songs. He accompanies with harmonica (which lands up in the proud possession of a fan at the end of the gig – lucky bastard). He loves his dramatic pauses. He is spontaneous with the songs making every performance a little different (probably cause he forgot what it originally sounded like but still). All of this makes what could be a flat performance with just a man and a guitar into a performance.

Fans also raid the stage and try grab anything he may have touched or licked (seriously some girl steal his coke – COCA COLA – can!). He comes back on with the famous Babyshambles Fuck Forever track. And this time we all go mad. And well he only played for about an hour and a bit, but it is clear he is tired (read drunk/high) as he mixes up all types of chords and even messes up the lyrics slightly (not that anyone really cares). And so after just one song encore he lays down his guitar and runs off the stage. Not a bow, not a thank you. And that was that.

And that is Pete. Its a bit of a mess. He is all over the place. He messes up songs. He gets more and more wasted as the show goes by. He uses nous instead of je in French. He doesn’t play as many songs as he should with the amount of material he has at hand. He doesnt even thank the crowd. But he is pure, raw, rock’n’roll and even under these conditions no one can deny he is talented.

And he reminds me of something I read:

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” —Maya Angelou

And that is all that matters.


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