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Carl Barat - Thekla, Bristol - October 26th 2010 (Live Review)

Thursday, 28 October 2010 Written by Dave Ball
Carl Barat - Thekla, Bristol - October 26th 2010 (Live Review)

It was soon made clear after stepping into Bristol's unique Thekla venue, tonight's audience would be getting value for money. Not more than ten minutes after doors had opened, the first of two support bands kicked-off the evening's entertainment.

Well received by the 30 or so early arrivals to the venue, Nottingham five-piece Swimming provided a short but sweet set of around 25 minutes, mostly drawing from their 2009 album ‘The Fireflow Trade’.

After a frantic 15 minutes of clearing Swimming’s gear off stage and setting up for the next act, our second support band took to the stage. Appearing as if they’d been transported in from the 80’s, Morecambe foursome The Heartbreaks strut onto the stage and tear into a set of guitar-rock packed full of witty, intelligent lyrics ready made for arena headline tours.
ImagePerforming with all the swagger and confidence of a far more experienced band, lead singer Matthew Whitehouse looks like he should have been in the Smiths while sounding reminiscent of Brett Anderson (Suede). Joseph Kondras' energetic drumming provides a thundering backdrop to the set which fully justifies the increasing roll of hype generated over the past six months. Expect to see bigger things from these boys in the next year.
Finally, it was time for the main event. An expectant crowd had filled the old boat venue creating a tight squeeze in front of the narrow stage awaiting the arrival of Carl Barat. As the band sauntered on stage and raised instruments, dramatic as ever Barat suddenly appeared to a roar and after a quick “Hello Bristol” led straight into, in my opinion, standout track ‘Je Regrette, Je Regrette’ from his recently released solo album.
All night the buzz around the venue had been about which Libertines songs would be played, when and how many. Well, we didn’t have to wait long for the first. Solo lead single ‘Run With The Boys’ was next and again was greeted with what would be best described as respectful enjoyment before Barat strapped on the electric guitar and leapt into ‘The Man Who Would Be King’ from The Libertines classic first album. Following two more solo numbers the first Dirty Pretty Things track of the night appears with ‘Deadwood’ receiving an equally well appreciated response by the capacity audience.
It was clear the bulk of the crowd were waiting for more Libertines material throughout the set but to simply pass off Barat's solo efforts would do a disservice to the quality of his debut solo album. Lost in the euphoria of the Libertines' Reading and Leeds festival reunion was the way Barat’s lyrics have developed and the performance of these songs live accentuated that. Wistful album opener ‘The Magus’ and the poetically painful ‘So Long, My Lover’ stand out here. These tracks particularly shine through as evidence that, although the style of songs may have changed the quality of his writing is still exceptional.
That said, the energy in the room, not only at ground level but from Barat himself during the forays into his past catalogue, was evidently higher. There was an explosion of noise to greet ‘Up The Bracket’ and he clearly fed off this himself twirling around the stage like a dervish. The set pattern of two from the solo album followed by a band track continued with the wonderful, and often forgotten ‘Death On The Stairs’, the penultimate song of the main set. Some would argue it was surprising that the biggest reception prior to the encore was reserved for Dirty Pretty Things debut single ‘Bang, Bang You’re Dead’, with every word belted back at the stage from the bouncing masses.
Barat arrives alone to open up the encore with an acoustic ‘9 Lives’ before being joined onstage for the rest of the band to complete the set. A fairly reserved encore suddenly sprang to life for the final pair of songs as Barat, having resisted numerous calls for various Libertines tracks, most commonly ‘Can’t Stand Me Now’, launches himself into ‘Time For Heroes’ sending the room into mayhem. Everyone by this point is dancing, jumping and running around, although no-one matching the enthusiasm Barat himself puts in.
After one last thank you the final song is the perfect conclusion to a performance which encapsulates the best of everything Barat has worked on over the past eight years or so. ‘Don’t Look Back Into The Sun’ kicking off one final, euphoric sing-a-long before the excitement of the room drifts away into a drizzly Bristol evening.


Je Regrette, Je Regrette
Run With The Boys
The Man Who Would Be King
Carve My Name
She's Something
The Magus
So Long, My Lover
Up The Bracket
Death Fires Burn At Night
What Have I Done
Death On The Stairs
Bang Bang You're Dead

9 Lives
The Fall
Time For Heroes
Don't Look Back Into The Sun

Stereoboard Gig Rating: 8/10.

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