Pete Doherty & The Puta Madres

Jacaranda Phase One 28/4/19

Infamous for playing by his own rules, it seems like even at 40, the kid that got kicked out of The Libertines is still running riot. He steps on stage an hour late with sweat dripping down his face, greeted with a god-like reception most artists can only dream of.

After waiting years to see PETE DOHERTY, missing his acoustic set at Hangar 34 earlier this year, I walk into the room expecting perfection. I leave having experienced the reality of Pete, no scars hidden. He puts it best in Shoreleave: “I never lost control. I never had control.”

The room is tense with anticipation, everyone is excited, but it seems like I’m not the only one who feels apprehensive; he’s not someone that is easy to predict. The opening performance of a poet is largely ignored. The crowd seems to have waited long enough already; people are getting agitated. It is a shame, however. In a different set of circumstances it could have been something we were all into, but not today. All we want is Pete and his Puta Madres on stage – pronto.

The wait ends with All At Sea, a song a day old, released on the band’s eponymous album. The song demonstrates the unexpected folk vibe of Pete’s new project. The stress that has everyone’s shoulders clenched is released. He’s still as brilliant as ever. The football chant style of “oh oh oooh” spreads across the room as the excitement heightens and the expectations for tonight rise once more.

The roller coaster doesn’t continue to rise. Sadly, the dip comes. As Pete’s singing slows down, it is the fans who keep the show afloat. Singing songs that have been out only a day, a small group in the audience are being pointed at by Pete, but are completely inaudible towards the back of the room. It is cringeworthy. If this was any other artist, I would be tearing them apart, but there’s just something about Pete; his flaws and his raw musical talent make it almost impossible to be as irritated as I would be towards anyone else.

But, maybe it isn’t Pete who holds all the cards any more, maybe it’s his fans. Looking around Phase One tonight, at the fans with their varied ages and their intense admiration, it is clear to see that all who surround me have faith and love any music bearing his signature. And with that, the end of Pete’s musical journey seems a long way away. Their love for this man and his entourage is understandable. He was late onstage because of his earlier record signing slot overrunning, cutting his set short, missing out my personal favourite – Fuck Forever – only to rush back and finish off the signing.

As I hold my vinyl close to my chest, with scribbles from tonight’s stars, I realise that I’m as much a victim of starry-eyed fandom as everyone else; those who allow Pete to be exactly who he is – those that love him despite his infuriating flaws. He’s unreliable, reckless and fucking talented.

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