The Libertines, The Dead Freights, The DSM IV @ The Academy 23.11.21

Opening tonight’s show with an industrial bang, are Liverpool based foursome The DSM IV – named after a diagnostic manual for mental disorders it’s no surprise that their live show brings with it a flare of chaos. Front man Guy McKnight has a commanding stage presence lending from his time with The Eighties Matchbox B-Line Disaster.

The band bring with them high energy techno dance with all the surly undertones of The Fall, something that isn’t always present with opening bands. Displaying some erratic yet mesmerising dance moves akin to Future Islands front man, Samuel T Herring, it doesn’t take long before McKnight is clambering off stage to sing and dance in the middle of the mosh pit.

Thick chewy basslines from Jade Ormesher, who tonight is serving up tracksuit chic meets Avant Gard Berlin hipster, keeps the overall anarchy of the live performance together with a driving disco backbone.

Stand out tracks include – ‘Funland’, ‘Scumbag’ and ‘Racist Man’. The band one by one begin to leave the stage with their instruments left on a repeated loop, so that they leave behind with them a distorted wall of sound and again an element of showmanship rarely seen from an opening act, they have gigs coming up in April – make some moves and check them out.

The Dead Freights have been making waves down south in their hometown of Southampton and it’s easy to see why. The quartet amble casually on stage and waste no time lurching into songs with big crunchy guitar riffs and pouting baselines.

The foursome are effortlessly cool with cheekbones that would have Karl Lagerfeld (god rest his beautiful soul) raise an eyebrow or two. It’s easy to see why they are drawing in a big crowd on the tour with The Libertines, with cheeky scallywag lyrics bringing a similar energy of their headlining counterparts.

Their music is equal parts swarthy cool, sexy with an element of 80’s hair metal. Try to imagine The Horrors sitting down to a tea party with Josh Homme and The Cramps. With big crunchy basslines, inspired guitar riffs and pounding drums, these guys will definitely be making waves this summer.

Stand out tracks include ‘Sufferin’ Safari” which doffs its cap in the direction of The Beach Boy’s “Surfin’ Safari” but with a much darker, insidious air. Witty lyrics like ‘All my bad dreams make sense, but the wet ones don’t’ perfectly showcases singer Charlie James guttural snarl and sharp delivery.

Recent single ‘Batman’ again has a cheeky-chappy element that uses the old ‘Na nan a nan a Batman’ TV theme tune in an effective derisive complaint about police complacency and inherent racism. But with fast paced drums and bass lending the tune a Ramones vibe.

Stray Dogs’ and ‘Jaw Talk’ both have easy to dance to compositions but with almost spoken words style lyrical delivery that give both songs an almost ‘protest’ ethos which lends itself well to the current climate. Make sure you get down early to catch them on the rest of The Libertines tour.

Unlike other bands who have made a concerted effort to get back together and on the road post pandemic The Libertines have avoided plugging new material and instead have curated a set list that is jam packed with all the hits the hungry audience could wish for.

I have to admit after rumours were circulating about a rather off-piste summer set at Playground this year I had my reservations about once again going to a Libertines show. But, gone (or seemingly so) are the inter-band rifts, the substance fuelled slurring and general chaos that came hand in hand with a Libertines gig in the early 2000’s.

Now what we have seemly been gifted with are 3 original Libertines’ members (Jon Hassall had issues with a vaccine passport it would seem) and one former Babyshambles bassist (Drew McConnell) drafted in to save the day.

The band are together, they are tight and they seem to have disowned any former pretence. They are genuinely delighted to be playing the second of two sold out Glasgow shows and more to the point they are having fun with it.

Pete and Carl are back to being the likely lads and seem to relish every second in each other’s company. Opening with ‘What a Waster’ the crowd are instantly chanting along with every word. Followed quickly by ‘The Ha Ha Wall’ however it’s the very first opening chords of ‘Up the Bracket’ that sends the feverish crowd into an almost frenzied state.

The boys play a fantastic set from start to finish, one that delivers a good dollop of nostalgia and along with an almost cathartic release from seeing this group of talented musicians, that have always been the underdogs, succeed by getting back on track with what they do best – delivering a set that pleases every fan that has stood by them in tougher times hoping for exactly what was given tonight.

Don’t Look Back into the Sun’, ‘Music When The Lights Go Out’, ‘What Katie Did’, ‘Horrorshow’, ‘Boys in the Band’, & ‘Death on the Stairs’ the set was indeed what any fan would have wanted it to be. So let the naysayers complain, The Libertines are back, they sound as good – if not better than they have ever been.

So get yourself along early – see the amazing new talent they have found to open for them and generally have a grand old time.

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