Live Review: The Libertines and The Dead Freights Resurrect Rock in Bournemouth

The Libertines Cristina Massei
The Libertines © Cristina Massei
19 years after the release of their first single, The Libertines prove that time is no obstacle to greatness.
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Between 2002 and 2004, The Libertines rode a wave of enormous indie rock success before crashing into a sea of hard drugs and in-band arguments after just two years at the top. It took a further ten years for the band to reunite and put together their third studio album, Anthems for Doomed Youth. It was that comeback album that proved, even after so much time, that The Libertines still stood on an honest and intoxicating pedestal that would carry their success into a new decade.

Come 2021, and The Libertines have embarked on their Giddy Up A Ding Dong tour with support band The Dead Freights to continue what they started all the way back in 2002.

The Dead Freights Rhona Murphy
The Dead Freights © Rhona Murphy

Warming up for The Libertines, The Dead Freights burst onto the stage in a shroud of heavy and intricate guitar solos, thick bass lines and classic rock energy. The four-piece from Southampton formed in 2015 and have made their name writing punk rock tracks fueled by angst and social commentary. And, on stage, the band gives off just the same energy.

Vocalist Charlie James’ speech-style singing is reminiscent of the grunge rock era, and the quartet’s raucous sonic flair sets just the right tone before a riotous Libertines show. Musically, The Dead Freights are in perfect sync, never missing a beat; their impressive live performance and luring stage presence is like a masterclass in how to be a support act.

As The Dead Freights finish their set, the crowd gears up to welcome the evening’s headliner to Bournemouth’s O2 Academy in the most apt way possible, by throwing pints. The practice may be somewhat antisocial, but it’s entirely expected on a night like this.

The Libertines
The Libertines © Cristina Massei

Erupting into their debut single “What a Waster,” The Libertines begin the show in the same way they began their career, abruptly and without hesitation. From the very start of the gig, what becomes clear is that The Libertines never lost their edge, and the Giddy Up A Ding-Dong tour serves as a reminder of just how unique their thrashing sound is.

But it’s not just the classic tracks like “What a Waster” and “The Ha Ha Wall” that prove the band’s sonic longevity: “Gunga Din,” a song from the band’s comeback album Anthems for a Doomed Youth, receives an equally emphatic reaction as any other.

Throughout the set, the crowd is frenetic, matching the band’s vivacity during lively performances of the chant-along songs”‘Barbarians,” “Can’t Stand Me Now” and “Boys in the Band.” Although, the audience is equally as happy to take a step back and sway to the more stripped back renditions of “What Katie Did” and “Music When The Lights Go Out.”

The Libertines
The Libertines © Cristina Massei

Varied, emotional and crammed with thunderous instrumentals and melodic anarchism, The Libertines’ performance transports the room back to the final years of an era that demanded British music be a pillar for societal change. And, as “Don’t Look Back into the Sun” closes the night with resurrecting guitar solos and crashing symbols, 2003 doesn’t feel so far away.

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The Libertines Cristina Massei

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