The Libertines / The Beatings - London Cherry Jam - 21/02/02
30 Jan 2004
two bands we think y'all shall hear more of...
Dubbed by Rough Trade - the label that has signed the band - as the 'best thing from London since The Kinks or The Clash', The Libertines are tonight playing their debut show proper. And what a way to begin.
With this being the launch-evening of a new live-music/club evening run by the 'Trade every Thursday at London's new and trendy Cherry Jam, the room is expectedly busy with a whole manner of different types: music-fans, industry-figures and, of course, the celebs. For a first show, this must be pressure - to the extreme.
But The Libertines aren't the first to test the water and find out just how well the audience assembled will respond. No, that job is left to The Beatings, one of the trashiest sounding bands to surface for some time - though, please - for the record - let's not make that a derogatory term.
Their blend of scrappy guitars and immediate, grinding, growling hooks makes for an intriguing listen, yet even more compelling live show. As the frontman - donning a traditional-style, tall baseball cap - recklessly thrusts his guitar side-to-side, whilst hollering shouty vocals that are echoed by his fellow bandmate to the left, you can't help thinking of the similarities in the haphazard enthusiasm displayed between this quartet and the NYC rock-acts of the late-70s. There is also something distinctly exciting about The Beatings, the name incidentally summing up their repertoire rather triumphantly, and as they crash their way to the end of a punchy, short set, the baseball cap in question is ripped off and thrown aside, prompting them all to create a deafening racket similar to that of a thousand Slipknot's. Keep an eye out for this lot - and an ear, too - but only if you can stand the volume.
So, with this, rounding off the live music for tonight is left to The Libertines, who - clearly - are the main draw. The room may be fuller than before, yet it's still comfortably spacious, blasting out enough air-conditioning to freeze a small lake. Before there's time left to dwell on such matters, though, four men have emerged on the miniscule stage in front. They look cool, yes, and possess leather jackets, whilst the drummer opts to place on his head a golfer's hat. Hmm.
Worries soon subside into feelings of excitement, enticement, however, as they kick into a performance uninterrupted by the necessity to introduce song-titles and spew out cocky phrases. It's soon revealed too that, as their show progresses from one track to another, the material improves, and the eccentricity/eclecticism of their catalogue is fully unveiled.
Harking back to, rather clearly, the energy and swagger of 60's bands, into the punk-tempos of the 70's, and early/mid 80's lashings of acts such as The Jam and The Smiths, The Libertines even manage to find time to provide their own spin, offering complicated rhythm-arrangements that collectively form memorable and high quality songs.
Is there a drawback in any of this? Yes, and no. There is no error in the music they create, or the way they present it, but the critics are bound to pick up on the fact that their razor-sharp riffs and tight display of unobvious yet warm melodies are reminiscent of The Strokes. Plus, the fact that in the UK they are label-mates too may heighten the possible 'controversy' involved in such a scenario. However, what remains true is their case of supreme talent - both in songwriting and in live presence - which can't be copied elsewhere.
They may at one point sing 'What a waster, what a f**king waster' in one of their numbers, yet the reaction and buzz tonight indicates that this line couldn't be further away from the truth when discussing the sheer relevance of each member on-show. Hear us now: The Libertines rock and roll with the best of them. And it's about time a London band is poised for such recognition.