The Empire in Coventry is a small 800 capacity music venue, which on The 18th of January announced The Libertines would be playing a surprise warm-up gig the following night. Unsurprisingly tickets sold-out in under half-an-hour as fans jumped at the opportunity to see the four-piece band at such an intimate venue. Used to selling out arenas this was a break from the norm for The Libertines and it promised to be a very special night.

So on Tuesday night 800 Libertines fans crammed themselves into a packed, tight and sweat dripping room to watch Pete Doherty, Carl Barat, Gary Powell and John Hassall. Opening with Barbarians followed by an uncontrolled version of Delaney that had everyone bouncing the message from the off was clear – it was going to be anarchy and chaos.

Sweaty teenagers were being crowd-surfed to safety throughout with room to breath at the front limited to say the least. But this is what Libertines fans had come for, drenched in each-others fluids 800 fans jumped and screamed to their favourite songs for the next 90 minutes.

The bands technical ability cannot be overlooked however. A perfect performance of What Katie Did had everyone singing word after word. The bands ability to dictate the speed of the gig was also apparent and impressive with a slowed-down version of You’re My Waterloo not only showcasing Doherty and Barat’s songwriting skills but also allowing the crowd to catch their breath as they marveled in the imposing talents of the likely lads.

The pace soon picked back up again with a riotous performance of Gunga Din – which was the lead single from their latest album Anthems For Doomed Youths and proved that their new material is appreciated just as much as their older albums by fans.

Doherty himself was on fine form as he basked in many chants from the crowd and even led an unorthodox cover of Twist And Shout that paid homage to the Coventry City fans in attendance who can often be heard singing the famous song on a Saturday at the Ricoh Arena. Drummer Gary Powell was unable to prevent himself from leading a chant about local rivals Aston Villa that also had City fans chorusing along to.

The band left the stage after Time For Heroes but returned to an encore with Up The Bracket, What A Waster and then finishing with a euphoric version of Don’t Look Back Into The Sun.

It was a gig that will not be forgotten by Coventry with the lawless and rampageous set leaving fans undoubtedly satisfied. The Libertines now embark on an arena tour (full dates and details can be found on their website) but it will be unlikely that such an intimate and impulsive atmosphere will be re-delivered to Coventry anytime soon.
Full set list:

Heart of the matter
Horror show
Fame and fortune
Boys in the band
The milkman’s horse
What Katie did
Anthems for doomed youths
Man who would be king
Gunga din
I get along
Can’t stand me now
Good ole’ days
Belly of the beast
Death on the stairs
Music when the lights go out
Time for heroes
Up the bracket
What a waster

Don’t look back into the sun

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