21st Century Appearances: 2011 Main Stage, 2004 Main Stage, 2003 Main Stage, 2002 NME Stage
The Defining Reading Moment: The unforgettable moment when Carl Barat and Pete Doherty nervously, romantically, and incredibly awkwardly both sang into the same mic for the first time at Reading in nine years.
The bad boys of indie were back in 2010, and this time they were all in one piece. They made their debut back in 2002, opening the NME stage, but returned the following two years without Pete Doherty and it looked as though that would be it for The Libertines, not only at Reading, but in general. However, that would not be the final say in their Reading careers.
They became one of Britain’s best new bands in 2002, with the likes of the NME and Mick Jones of The Clash championing their arrival. They started their Reading careers off as NME stage opener, signalling their intentions to take the UK indie scene by storm. However, things began to turn fractious from then on, as Pete Doherty struggled with drug problems and he was fired from the band for stealing from Carl Barat’s house.
On the back off their hype, they found themselves promoted up the line up to Mid-Main Stage in 2003. However, while Pete was in jail, the band got on with their set and future-Dirty Pretty Things guitarist Anthony Rossomando took Doherty’s place. Despite their continuing internal problems and with Doherty briefly returning, they were back again in 2004, again with Rossomando, this time up to third from top, underneath Morrissey and The White Stripes. The set turned out to be disastrous, with the Barat/Doherty chemistry that had worked so well on their self-titled second album missing, and it looked as though the band who were the going to be the next big thing, were crumbling right in front of everyone’s eyes. After disbanding at the end of 2004, it looked like the end.
I always wondered whether I’d get the chance to see The Libertines live. Having heard rumours about them appearing on the line up, the excitement was filtering through, but once I saw their name on the poster underneath Arcade Fire, it had finally sunk in that I would be seeing them. Having waited months for the moment to come, I was worried that something may happen or that they would be awful, but as soon as they entered the stage, my worries were quashed and the sudden burst of adrenaline filtered through.
Having only released two albums, all the big hits and fan favourites were there: “Don’t Look Back into the Sun”, “Time for Heroes”, “What Katie Did”, “Can’t Stand Me Now”, “Up the Bracket”, “What Became of the Likely Lads”, “Boys in the Band”, “What A Waster”, “The Boy Looked at Johnny” and “I Get Along.” The large crowd were up for every song, which caused some chaos at the front and saw the band momentarily stopped in the middle of “Time for Heroes”, due to crushing. They returned a few minutes later to a congress of fans chanting “Libertines” and continued where they had left off, as if they‘d never been away. It was the sound of the crowd having a great time and the band having a great and memorable moment. The hug between Pete and Carl at the end signalled an eruption of applause and cheering from the crowd, delighted to see them back together and on the same stage again.
As far as comebacks go, this was up there for the best of them, just don’t expect them to return anytime soon. Siobhan Gallagher