Babyshambles * * *
at Birmingham NIA
Review by Neil Connor
There are some people who prefer a more coherent and grown up Pete Doherty, but not many, judging from the empty seats at Birmingham's National Indoor Arena.
In the days when Doherty had a supermodel girlfriend and a superhuman appetite for drugs, he was used to playing to intimate audiences in far smaller venues that this. The former Libertine was also known to perform for a few friends in his London flat in the early days of Babyshambles.
However, even the Doherty living room might have felt slightly vacant if it was filled with the mainly teenage crowd that made up the audience at one of Birmingham's largest venues.
It took Babyshambles a while to whip up the audience. Maybe this had something to do with adolescent shyness, but it probably had more to do with the first three-quarters of the set being almost entirely made up of Babyshambles more sensible album, Shotters Nation.
Doherty performed Delivery, You Talk, UmBilo Titled and Unstookie Titled with more enthusiasm than he has displayed in all his recent visits to Birmingham in a vain attempt to convince he is a serious artist who should be recognised more for his music than his social habits.
But it was only when he delved into songs from the first Babyshambles' album that there was anything like a rock concert atmosphere at the NIA.
Down in Albion, a gritty collection of badly-produced tracks charting Doherty's downward spiral through crack addiction, might have been poorly received on its release. And it does also reveal rather too much of Doherty's already over-exposed inner demons.
But during an extended encore at the NIA, Pipedown, Back from the Dead and F**K Forever were warmly greeted by a jubilant crowd, suggesting that when the window into Doherty's tortured soul is slammed shut, there is little else that remains of the troubled singer.