The Libertines // BST Hyde Park, London, 2014 – Beth Kirkbride
The Libertines’ British Summer Time reunion set at Hyde Park in 2014 ended with a recital of Siegfried Sassoon’s 1918 poem, ‘Suicide In The Trenches’. As frontman Pete Doherty paid a centenary tribute to the brave men and women who gave their lives to fight for King and country in WWI, I pictured a soldier receiving a message from his commanding officer that he needed to relay to a battalion stationed a few trenches over. His journey was a perilous one; there was a high chance he would be blown to smithereens by falling shells, or caught in enemy fire. His heart pounded in his chest as he ducked past barbed wire, and crawled on his elbows through the mud, not knowing if he would make it to his destination.
Perhaps the sobering prose of trench warfare should have come earlier in The Libertines’ set, for there was no military discipline to be seen in that crowd. Ribs were crushed, feet were trampled. Cigarettes came perilously close to eyeballs, and flares blinded fans who chorused in unison with the likely lads. The same buffoons who now climb and set 5G masts on fire in protest attempted to scale the radio control tower, halting the band’s set three times altogether. Doherty told the 60,000-strong crowd: “We can’t carry on if you don’t calm down a bit.” But the boys in the band prevailed, and this then-seventeen-year-old music reviewer would luckily make it home: battered and bruised, but happy to be alive.