2008, and Doherty is maybe just getting to the other side of his tabloid peak(?!). He wants to be taken seriously again. His friendship with Barât slightly repaired, Shotters Nation (his 2nd Babyshambles album) has received good reviews, and he was working on a solo project. But of course, if you want to be a serious artist and shake off the headlines, you need to play an acoustic set at Royal Albert Hall.
It was enjoyable, if not slightly bizarre. A large number of the crowd hankering for a show more reminiscent of his Libertines and Babyshambles gigs, shocked to discover it was an all seated affair, with little fanfare. The 2nd shock of the night was him coming bang on the advertised time, strolling on stage (with binoculars), looking dapper in the now trademark suit and Trilby. The start of the gig went without to much fanfare until someone on the front row decided to take a phone call mid song. Doherty promptly stopped the gig and called the guy out. Said guy told him to do one, and then lobbed a bottle at him. Doherty went to retaliate before security stepped/bundled in and took the guy out. The rest of the gig - 27 songs! - went off without a hitch. Whisper it, it was almost too safe...
Wolfman joined the stage for For Lovers, which is one of the most special songs to me, and I can’t remember it all, which is how forgettable that part of the night wash. Babyshambles guitarist Mik Whitnall joined for the encore. Helping beef up Fuck Forever, Albion (always a highlight), and I Wish. A simple Ska number which had become a firm fan favourite, and typical set closer. IF Royal Albert Hall has had a stage invasion before, I’ve yet to hear about it, but, as the night nearly ended without controversy, a few fans forced their way onto the stage, not that the stewards put up too much resistance. I assume because usually they’re accustomed to showing people where the toilets are, not trying to prevent a 19 year old kid get close to their hero. Of course, once the first few were on, it triggered a domino affect. To be fair, it all seemed in good spirit, and you could just about make out the odd bit of the guitar riff still, and the “Woah” chant that accompanies it. I remember seeing someone on stage with a motorbike helmet, and sort of remember seeing a moped on stage, but really can’t recall if this is just a fragment of my imagination that I’ve created to add some more lunacy to the event.
As we waited at the bus stop outside after, a succession of police cars continued to pull outside, presumably to try and get some sort of order inside.
Doherty now long gone, probably on a moped somewhere, had reminded the public that he was still very much a song writer that had to be taken seriously, but also that controversy, whether encouraged or not, was never going to be far behind. Possibly why even now there is so much interest in him.