Metropolis 2004 Music Survey
As this weeks visitors prove, some bands do live
up to their names
We inhabit an age of harm reduction in rock.
So it comes as a perverse comfort when even as hardcore headbangers
like Metallica have released a documentary about their group
therapy, and pretty much everybody is in a 12-step plan or
in recovery, that some rock n rollers
are still living according to hallowed rock dictums like hope
I die before I get old and better to burn out,
than to fade away.
The result, however, is that for this weeks Tokyo visit,
young British foursome The Libertines are without charismatic
singer Pete Doherty. Following repeated stints in rehab and
a two-month prison sentence for breaking into co-frontman
Carl Barats apartment and robbing items including a
laptop computer and acoustic guitar, Doherty is off the current
Not that anyone would care if The Libertines music wasnt
so powerful. Debuting in 2003 with Up the Bracket (Bracket
stands for cocaine) produced by the Clashs Mick Jones,
The Libertines were quickly tagged the UK Strokes.
The album had a lean, garage sound in common with their US
counterparts, but at the same time defied easy comparison.
The Libertines then pulled off what in rock can be very difficult:
releasing a follow-up that doesnt disappoint. This Augusts
The Libertines opens with Cant Stand Me Now,
a love song with the catch that its about Barat and
Dohertys relationship. You twist and tore our
love apart, sings Barat, with Doherty responding, No,
youve got it the wrong way around/You shut me up and
blamed it on the brown.
With Doherty on waivers until he can clean up his act, Barat
has been handling frontman duties solo, adding Anthony Rossomando
on guitar to complement John Hassall (bass) and Gary Powell
(drums). In the meantime, Doherty has been touring the UK
with his other act the Babyshambles. Does this herald a permanent
split in The Libertines? Barat has been telling the press
that Doherty is welcome back if hes clean, while Doherty
has accused Barat of jealousy over Dohertys moonlighting
with the Babyshambles.
While the tabloids have a field day, the record companies
have been reveling in it as each new scandal drives sales
higher. What a Waster was The Libertines
first Top 40 single, entering the UK charts in 2002. Up the
Bracket appeared in early 2003, spawning a number of hits
including Dont Look Back Into the Sun. More
recently, Doherty and Barat appeared on the surprise hit For
Lovers by friend Wolfman, while Cant Stand
Me Now entered the UK charts at No. 2.
Japanese audiences, it turns out, have seen the Doherty-less
Libertines before: the last time they were in Japan, in 2003,
Doherty was busy breaking into his bandmate Barats apartment.
Zepp Tokyo, November 29. See concert
listings for details.
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Metropolis 2004 Music Survey
with METROPOLIS readers at http://forum.japantoday.com