I’m not sure whether it was the nostalgic feeling that prompted a couple to make out in the middle of the floor or the little kisses band members gave each other throughout the night, but there was nothing but love in the air for the start of Dirty Pretty Things‘ brief American tour.
Freshly graced with a collarbone fracture, frontman Carl Barat let out a visual “meh” and sang like a true leader while held together by a sling fashioned from a Union Jack. Meanwhile, his guitar-playing duties were taken over by Paddingtons guitarist Josh Hubbard, looking ever-so-slightly like the Kinks‘ Mick Avory, dressed up in his finest Libertine-style attire. Hubbard was the recipient of many kisses from his temporary band mates, and he didn’t stand out a bit, even as the token short-haired chap in a leather jacket.
Still, he fit in so well that he almost resembled an intentional fill-in for Pete Doherty. Quite appropriately — there were seamless transitions between Dirty Pretty Things’ brand new songs and the three Libertines tracks that weren’t just meant to fill time in the hour-long set. Fantastic as it was, even causing a blissful crowd of minors to dance (yes, dance — no rough-play here), the show was, in a sense, sad to watch. Certainly, a band such as Dirty Pretty Things can hold its own, and this was particularly apparent when everyone cheered a bit louder at Anthony Rossomando’s first trumpet blow on single “Bang Bang You’re Dead.” But between the serenade of his solo on “France” and exciting encore closer “I Get Along,” it was evident that Barat genuinely loved the Libertines’ music and dynamic and wasn’t ready to let either go, even if a new band had to be the means that allowed him to hold on.
The Libertines’ career was far too short, and Barat appeared all too aware of this, putting heart and passion equally into the music of both bands, leading Dirty Pretty Things with the Libertine spirit. The rest of the group, also featuring former Libertines drummer Gary Powell and former Cooper Temple Clause bassist Didz Hammond, followed suit. Band and audience alike were strangely at peace considering that this was a rock show, and it’s probable that nostalgia played a key role in this.
Without a doubt, most of the crowd had gathered to watch the Libertines that would have been, particularly if they’d missed the small window of opportunity to see the real thing two years ago. And each of the band members — not just Barat — seemed to understand this and reciprocate just the same. Their music might more closely follow the style of the Libertines’ “throwaway” tracks (if poppy hooks and a touch less intimacy make a song throwaway, considering the stretch), but none of their spirit or camaraderie have been lost.
Besides, Gary Powell called our crowd “bloody mahvelous” at show’s end. Surely that’s worth an extra point or two.