Babyshambles, Mandela Hall
Does Pete Doherty deserve it? The faithful are holding up their mobile phones, begging him to shout hello to their mates. A freshly liberated bra arcs through the air and snags itself on the drummer's cymbal. Half-remembered Babyshambles songs are swapped with messy versions of Lily Allen's 'Smile' and Desmond Dekker's '007'. Everything he does is met with unqualified rapture.
Many people are hoping for a repeat of the Dublin experience when Pete's mate Kate Moss came on stage to sing for a while. But it's not happening tonight. There's some consolation with an old tune from his Libertines days, the uppity 'Time For Heroes'. Only last week, in the same venue, his old pal Carl Barat got a similar roar when he played 'I Get Along'.
Pete is stuffing his pockets with letters and drawings that have found their way onto the stage. There's still some value in the Doherty cult, and tonight he's touching hands, insisting that he cares for his people. He's burbling his way through 'Albion', which still does has a woozy eloquence, somewhere between Morrissey and William Blake.
Pete, of course, is Britain's most publicised junkie. Maybe he's no longer dancing with Mister Brownstone, but tonight he's still romancing his heroin chic. It's in the glassy stare and the ever-stumbling posture. It's in the slurring diction. But just to make things that bit literal, Pete picks up a cloth belt that's been thrown from the audience. He wraps the webbing around his bicep and pulls hard on one end. He's acting out a little pantomime - the user preparing to jack up.
The audience cheers, natch. They've come to see a bad boy and here he is, acting to type. With a monkey on his back, a downwardly mobile lifestyle and music that's increasingly feeble.
Dead cool, eh?
Photos by Stuart Bailie
Babyshambles, Mandela Hall, Belfast, 27.9.06