The Libertines @ Arena Berlin

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“All the highs and the lows and the to’s and the fro’s”

Walking through Kreuzberg on Saturday night felt strangely like being in Camden or Brick Lane. There was a distinct Britishness to the area. Why? The Libertines is why.

It is over ten years since the Libs last album, they, like the fans who worshipped them, are no longer young, rash troubadours with wet dreams and a glint of opportunity in their eye. Older, wiser and battle scarred, the effects of a few late nights too many were drawn in the lines of many a face, both on stage and in the crowd.

When the boys in the band announced earlier this year that they would be touring again, and not only in the UK, there was a scramble for tickets. A weekend in Berlin, plus The Libertines? Yes please. It was of no surprise when the Columbiahalle was upgraded to the colossal Arena. A broad factory structure probably more fit to host conferences and gaming exhibitions than gigs.

There was a nervous energy in the Arena before the gig started. Will they turn up? Has the magic gone? Are they really just doing it for the money? As the band took to the stage and proceeded to play, it seemed as if the 2nd question was going to ring true. The sound was shit, only serving to amplify the fact that the The libs have never been the tightest of bands.

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This early hiccup was soon forgotten though, as the sound improved and Carl and Pete put on a show for the crowd with their “likely lads” interplay on stage.

We’re not playing another song until we get 4 shoes or one person on stage.

With the atmosphere at boiling point and the mosh in full flow Pete stopped playing and challenged the crowd. “We love to have people on stage, but no one has managed it on this tour. We’re not playing another song until we get 4 shoes or one person on stage”. The shoes came thick and fast, along with a few pieces of negligé, but no stage invasion. The seed had been sown however, as a huge roar of appreciation went through the crowd a little later on. Someone (turns out it was a friend of ours!) had managed to beat the German bouncers, for 5 seconds at least, to get on stage, do a little chicken dance and save Berlin’s reputation.

All inhibitions were lost after this as the crowd proceeded to royally “have it”. The Libertines have anthems on tap. Songs that have been sweated too on dirty club dance floors and parties the world over, and it was no different at the Arena. The magic of bygone years may not quite be there anymore, but for two hours the lads were back, and so were the troubadours with that glint in their eye, and mischief on their minds.

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