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Past Times

The stories behind Pete Doherty’s wild Dundee gigs

It's fair to say, during this period, he had the look of a man to whom sobriety was something of a stranger. reports.
Graeme Strachan
Pete Doherty has been a fixture on stage in Dundee since 2004. Image: DC Thomson.
Pete Doherty has been a fixture on stage in Dundee since 2004. Image: DC Thomson.

In just five years, Pete Doherty played three riotous gigs in Dundee and also gave The View their big break.

The Libertines star even had a brush with the law in 2005 after a liquid breakfast in McDonald’s led to him getting a warning for drinking in the streets.

This was the tabloid fodder era for the indie genius who co-wrote hits like What a Waster, Don’t Look Back Into The Sun and Can’t Stand Me Now with bandmate and friend Carl Barat.

It’s fair to say, during this period, he had the look of a man to whom sobriety was something of a stranger.

Doherty, perhaps unsurprisingly, was on the front page of every red top. On stage, he was simply unmissable.

And the City of Discovery – where he returns on Monday – appeared to be one of his favourite destinations.

Babyshambles played the Reading Rooms

The good ship Albion first docked at these shores in 2004.

Babyshambles had been formed from the ashes of The Libertines and embarked on a UK tour in September and October which included the Reading Rooms in Dundee.

Doherty made it to the stage one night after failing to appear at Aberdeen’s Lemon Tree after falling down the stairs and sparking a mini-riot which ended with seven arrests.

Nobody knew whether Doherty and his band would turn up after the Aberdeen cancellation. Image: Shutterstock.

The band finally walked on after 11.30pm, around an hour late, and to a less-than-full club at the Blackscroft venue after a predictably chaotic last-minute release of tickets.

But in the end it was worth it.

Within the space of the first three songs he had poured beer on his head, climbed on top of a speaker, dived into the crowd, and in between managed to sing some brilliant songs.

It was classically punkish behaviour.

A 40-minute set ended with Doherty running through a string of Libertines songs with hearty backing from the enthusiastic crowd.

Doherty was struggling with drug addiction when he started performing with Babyshambles. Image: Shutterstock.

The rest of the band didn’t appear to have a full idea what was happening, but then what else could anyone expect?

Babyshambles released the single, Killamangiro, on the Libertines’ former label, Rough Trade, in November 2004, and began to work on their first album in spring 2005.

The band released the single F*** Forever that August as a teaser for the album and toured in support of it which included a date at Fat Sam’s in Dundee on September 23.

A brush with the law in Dundee

Doherty announced his early arrival in his tour bus at South Ward Road in typical style, having a brush with the law after deciding to seek out some breakfast at McDonald’s.

“Mr Doherty was in good form and seemed quite happy as he enjoyed breakfast,” recalled Dave Jeffrey, the manager of the Reform Street branch.

“A couple of our crew had some interaction with him.

“Not long afterwards, he was collared in the street by police for drinking in a no-alcohol area.”

Doherty and two other members of his band were searched in the street after police apparently received a tip-off that the trio were acting suspiciously in McDonald’s.

Police located the trio near Pizza Hut in High Street around 8.45am, with alcohol being taken from them and disposed of.

However, after being warned, Doherty and his band-mates were allowed to continue on their way, but not before stopping for a chat with fans in the street.

His spokesman said that the singer was “probably unaware” of Dundee’s city centre ban on drinking.

Would Doherty be fit to perform after his liquid breakfast?

Kyle Falconer managed to get his band a support spot with Babyshambles back in 2005. Image: DC Thomson.

Dundee band The View managed to get themselves on to the bill after lead singer Kyle Falconer knocked on his tour bus door and gave him a CD of some of their songs.

He loved it.

Doherty told him: “If you do sound like that you can play for me.”

The band offered the Dryburgh foursome a support slot which was the beginning of their break into the big time.

The lights went out at Fat Sam’s

All the while, Doherty confounded the sceptics by remaining coherent throughout his performance and getting through to the end without any real controversy.

Almost.

Courier Rocktalk writer Alan Wilson was there to watch the drama unfold.

He wrote: “For once it wasn’t his fault…the most riotous gig Fat Sam’s has ever experienced passed with only a couple of minor hitches, and Pete Doherty had nothing to do with it.

“During Babyshambles’ latest single F*** Forever, the power tripped twice and the lights went down. However, the crowd took over and sang the words until normal service was resumed and Doherty’s vocals could again be heard.

Pete Doherty performed a memorable set at Fat Sam’s with support from The View. Image: Supplied.

“Despite all expectations, the former Libertines singer was on his best behaviour, making his way easily through a full one-hour set of mainly new songs from their forthcoming, as yet untitled, album.

“Although the majority of the audience was unsure how long he would remain on stage, the atmosphere was electric and the fans danced like there was no tomorrow.

“Doherty’s party piece is to leap amongst the fans, but the nearest he got to crowd surfing was swinging on the lighting rig above the stage.

“But fans’ favourites Killamangiro and his tribute to his friend and collaborator Wolfman produced a massive response.”

Babyshambles released their second album in 2007 and embarked on an arena tour with The View supporting the band on the Birmingham and Nottingham dates.

Doherty released a solo album in 2009 and went back out on the road, which included a date at Dundee’s Doghouse in February that was cancelled after the pub closed.

The solo jaunt was rescheduled for April at Fat Sam’s where he rolled back the years to the glory days of The Libertines wearing his iconic red military jacket and a kilt.

Pete Doherty on stage in a military jacket and kilt at Fat Sam's in 2009. Image: DC Thomson.
Pete Doherty on stage in a military jacket and kilt at Fat Sam’s in 2009. Image: DC Thomson.

Doherty got the masses going early on, belting out solo versions of material from his early days with The Libertines, as well as Babyshambles numbers.

Taking requests from the crowd he seemed in a jovial mood, but the biggest cheer of the night was for the encore as View bassist Kieren Webster joined his hero on stage.

A chant of “The View, The View, The View are on fire” went up before the pair romped through rousing renditions of Don’t Look Back Into The Sun and Time For Heroes.

In 2010 the Libertines reformed for appearances at the Reading and Leeds Festivals and released their third album, Anthems for Doomed Youth, in September 2015.

The band performed at the Caird Hall in December 2019 where Doherty dedicated his breakthrough single Time For Heroes “to Dundee” during the typically chaotic live show.

The Libertines are still on the scene and performed a series of UK dates in the summer of 2022 which celebrated the 20th anniversary of their debut album, Up The Bracket.

So what became of the likely lad?

Now 44, he has put his old lifestyle behind him and settled into a quiet life in the French countryside.

And to the delight of millions of fans, he announced his first solo acoustic tour of the UK in a decade would take place in April 2023 and cover his entire discography, with the Dundee leg taking place at Fat Sam’s.

A statement for the show reads: “Peter promises to take audiences on an unforgettable ride into his strange and fascinating world where nothing is as it seems and life itself is an intense euphoric dream. Friends and special guests are expected to join him on occasion across these seventeen dates.”

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