Live Review: The Libertines @ SSE Hydro

With the SSE Hydro in complete darkness, a spotlight suddenly follows a man in a kilt with bagpipes – surprising Libertines fans by playing traditional Scottish anthem ‘Flower of Scotland’. The crowd almost erupts with excitement – releasing all feelings of anticipation once the Libertines finally kick-start their tour with rumbling feel-good tune ‘Barbarians’.

The band then rewinds over 10 years back playing old hit ‘The Delaney’ as their second song, providing a good mix of new and old. The Hydro echoes the crowd chanting the inevitably catchy and famous ‘no no no’, ‘yeah yeah yeah’ of the chorus.

As soon as we hear their latest release ‘Heart of the Matter’ – the screen behind the band immediately turns black and white and blurred with Pete and Carl being the main bodies in picture. Considering this song refers back to their old habits and previous reputation, the display during this song felt relevant and really enhanced the powerfulness of the song.

Particularly for their older songs, the response from the crowd was electric. Traditional Libertines songs such as ‘Can’t Stand Me Now’ and ‘Time for Heroes’ saw a collision of mosh pits, pints of beer flying across the arena and every single person up on their feet. Recent releases such as ‘Gunga Din’ also completely transformed the atmosphere – boosting it to a level which felt greater than the Hydro itself.

Regarding the set list, it seemed like there was a short ‘interval’ of slower, more wound-down songs such as: ‘The Milkman’s Horse’, ‘What Katie Did’, ‘Anthem for Doomed Youth’ and ‘You’re My Waterloo’ all being played one after the other. This relaxed the crowd, but also managed to build tension for the next up-beat song ‘The Man Who Would Be King’.

For the encore, you could hear speculation among the audience as to what song they were going to play – when in fact they actually came back with three. ‘Up the Bracket’, ‘What a Waster’ and ‘Don’t Look Back into the Sun’ sealed the end of the concert effortlessly, with Pete and Carl showing off their usual two-guys-one-microphone on-stage chemistry.

Fans will know that some of the Libertines’ most memorable gigs have been in much smaller venues such as the O2 Academy and King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut in Glasgow, and because of this – it’s a shame to say that there was something missing at the SSE Hydro. Maybe it’s just because the Libertines’ sound suits close-knit, low-key gigs – however whatever the Hydro tried to do to make this more intimate rather than the renowned arena it prides itself on being, didn’t fully succeed. When you entered the arena, there were some large seating sections cordoned off which I think was intended to make it seem smaller, but made it look even sparser which took away slightly from the atmosphere.

Aside from that factor, the whole gig was musical perfection. One aspect of the gig in particular that was really impressive was drummer Gary – he played immaculately and when you watched him closely on the big screen, you could tell he was having the time of his life. He was pulling all kinds of faces at the camera, laughing, and singing along to every word alongside Pete and Carl, which ultimately made the experience even more enjoyable.

by Amy Pollock

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