Peter Doherty - Cardiff University Great Hall

He’s not here, but, er, we hope he'll get here at some stage so things might run a bit late

An ominous but not wholly unexpected start to the evening. Things get ever more confused as the night wears on. He’s just left London no, wait He was last seen in Paris and, inevitably, He’s OD’d on the bus. It is left to Red Roots and Dot Allison to try and keep the show on the road and they both struggle manfully with a crowd who show no interest whatsoever – they are here to see Pete Doherty and, as yet, they don’t know he’s not in the building.

Lies, rumour and half truths - what a draining burden to carry around everywhere you go, but he does himself no favours with his antics. Whatever the truth of the matter, Peter finally arrives in Cardiff an hour after he’s due onstage and is quickly hustled on-stage with little ceremony. He paces the stage like a bear who’s been too long in the zoo, strumming apparently random chords, takes a few drags on his tab and he’s back in the room. The show begins but not, it appears, as planned; Peter apologises for the delay before muttering something pointed about Coxon and the string section not turning up.

Who knows whether they were due to show or not, but the lack of a backing band really does make for a relatively one dimensional show tonight and, with the imminent release of a genuinely fabulous new album blessed by the skills of Stephen Street, this seems to be a wasted opportunity. Peter just can’t deliver songs like the majestic new single Last of the English Roses with nothing more than an acoustic guitar, although breezy singalong Arcadie and the Hancock inspired Lady Don’t Fall Backwards both kick life into a flagging set. Dot Allison joins him for Sheepskin Tearaway and finally gets a bit of respect from the crowd, but it is the older material such as What a Waster and Fuck Forever which burn brightest here tonight.

The mere fact that he’s here breathing the same air is more than enough for a fair proportion of the acolytes here tonight and, to be fair, he’s looking good, recalling nothing so much as Cecco Boneri – the tousle haired model for some of Caravaggio’s most decadent paintings. Doherty embodies this Bacchanalian spirit in much the same way as tragic predecessors such as Johnny Thunders and Keith Moon, although the spontaneous rendition of Happy Birthday from the crowd reminds us that, as age 30, he's beaten the classic rock death age of 27 so there's a glimmer of hope for a happier ending for young Peter. He leaves the stage quickly tonight, draped in a Union Flag, following a genuinely rousing version of Albion where, finally, the barrier between performer and audience is pierced and we see a brief glimpse of why this man remains so iconic. He’s running out of chances to grab what is his for the taking though.

Category Gig Review

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