Sweet junky Jesus! My brain nearly blew when I saw the UK's Libertines were coming to the States. I was ready to go to San Francisco, Seattle, wherever they'd be. God knows they might not make it for another tour.
As the initial shock wore off, I got to thinking--the show was still a few months away, and in the case of the Libertines that amounts to a major craps shoot. Would the band make it intact? Would Pete Doherty (guitar/vocals) get locked up again? Would he and co-founder Carl Barat have another falling out? Would he be alive? Could Barat carry the band without him? A few months would give him plenty of time to fuck up... and for Doherty, fucking up is like a full time job.
After their 2002 debut, Up the Bracket, there was certainly a fear that this band, so fresh and urgent, would crumble.
In keeping with their long history of drugs, splits, no-shows, jail, and other bullshit, Doherty was recently released from prison (for robbing Barat's flat) long enough for the band to record a sophomore album that's loaded with moments of absolute brilliance. On 2004's The Libertines, the band captures a very live, carefree sound, inspired by British punk like The Jam, Buzzcocks, and The Clash (whose Mick Jones produced the album), but also moves into moments of hearty folk. Like The Clash's Strummer and Jones, Barat and Doherty aren't limited to any one style--they lead exuberant stomps, but also bleed acoustic intimacies.
And so here we are a few months later and, regretfully, my prediction held. Doherty's back down on the brown and he's been kicked out of the band, though he expects the separation to be temporary. "They've still got my fucking guitars!" he pined in a recent interview.