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Pete Doherty
Live review...
Pete Doherty
Doherty arrived on the Mandela stage to a typical Belfast welcome - a shower of plastic pint glasses and a healthy dose of 'yeos'. Yet he took it all literally in his stride, sauntering over to his guitar, his gangly frame dodging and weaving each projectile as they hurtled his way. He only stopped to pick up a love letter thrown to his feet.

Pete Doherty was due to play Belfast last year but, having ended up in hospital, he had to cancel the Irish leg of the tour.

So it was a relief to see him on the stage, re-arranging his pints of Guinness and taking in the crowd with a bemused but confident look. And once the pint-chucking and yeo-ing had calmed down, he casually launched into 'The Good Old Days'.

'For Lovers' and 'New Love Grows On Trees' followed, with the crowd practically wailing the line "And if you're still alive, When you're twenty five" at the lonesome frontman.

The stripped down performance is something Doherty has embraced in recent years, and it certainly seems to suite his style. The emptiness of the stage, where a band would normally be, was now filled by two delicate ballerinas. The crowd, thankfully, decided not to afford the same welcome as they had previously given. Though ballet pumps and a stage covered in stale harp made for some interesting improvisations - which apparently in ballet terms is called "falling on one's arse."

It was an anthemic performance, and this reviewer found himself been reeled into Pete's world - hook, line and sinker. He's a charming man, and eager to connect with his crowd - even though he barely talked during the set. Instead, he made efforts to look at and inspect every piece of jewellery, letter or clothing thrown at him by the generous audience. At one point, stopping for a smoke break (take note Belfast City Council) was met by a hail of cigarettes thrown in his direction. He picked each one up, either folding them into his trilby hat, or stuffing them in his blazer pocket.

And he rattled through some very familiar hits - 'Can't Stand Me Now', 'Time For Heroes', 'Last Of The English Roses', 'What A Waster', 'What Katie Did', 'F*** Forever' and finally - the highlight of the night - a raw, personal and emotional version of Albion.

Apart from a few determined stage crashers, who the Mandela Hall's security couldn't seem to handle - there was barely any sideshow  - no trashed stages, no canceled gigs.

It was all about the performance on stage, and it didn't disappoint. Where Pete Doherty has previously fell short on recorded albums, the live, raw, honest act he can deliver is unique and memorable.

In this reviewer, he has won over a new fan. But whether he can focus any of this new found energy into a new album is another thing.

Keith Anderson

Photos: Paul McGlade -

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Photo Gallery

Photo by Paul McGladePhoto by Paul McGladePhoto by Paul McGlade
Photo by Paul McGlade

Gig Details
Venue: Mandela Hall
Location: Belfast
Date: 22/1/2010

Related Links
+ BBC Artist Website
+ Paul McGlade Photography