The SSE Hydro was buzzing on Thursday night as The Libertines took to the stage for the opening night of their UK arena tour and, judging by the lengthy queues of shivering fans waiting to get in, their return to the stage had been eagerly awaited.
As soon as the lights dimmed, the crowd erupted into cheers as they were greeted by a kilted piper playing “Flower of Scotland”. His tune soon became lost under the crowd’s enthusiastic singing, proving that The Libertines certainly know how to play to their audience. And the wooing didn’t end there. Pete Doherty, with silvering scarecrow-hair peeking out from under his iconic trilby, sauntering on stage and attempting his best Scottish accent just made the crowd scream even louder.
Although appreciated, these personal touches were not necessary for getting the crowd on their side. With an impressive set list encompassing songs from each of their three studio albums, there was something for everyone to enjoy. As expected, the audience went crazy for all the well-known favourites, which saw Doherty and co-frontman Carl Barât nostalgically reunited behind the same microphone. “Music When The Lights Go Out” had everyone on their feet, “Boys in the Band” saw many a beer cup thrown into the air, and everyone in the arena shoop-shooped along to “What Katie Did”. Doherty’s stripped back solo performance of “You’re My Waterloo” was a stand-out moment of the show, exhibiting the raw talent and powerful vocals that have so often been overshadowed by his bad-boy behaviour.
Even the tracks from their new album, Anthems for Doomed Youth, were greeted as old friends. Opening the show, “Barbarians” was an instant crowd-pleaser while their performance of “Heart of the Matter” showed that, although their rebellious behaviour appears to be history, their captivating melodies and poetic lyrics were very much in sync with those of the band’s glory days.
But of course, The Libertines wouldn’t be The Libertines without some mischief onstage. Their performance was regularly punctuated with the entrance of big-busted, short-skirted girls sporting the band’s signature red military jacket and carrying pints of beer – clearly having been given the responsibility to make sure that the band’s drink supply never ran dry.
The band ended on a high note with a lively performance of “Don’t Look Back Into The Sun”, giving the crowd exactly what they had been waiting for. Before leaving the stage, Doherty told the Glaswegian audience, “we’ll see you when we see you,” leaving every sweat-soaked fan praying that, if the next rendezvous is to be anything like this one, they will return sooner rather than later.