The British tabloids love to hate Pete Doherty, the Babyshambles lead singer. The foppish front man is repeatedly pictured in newspapers leaving courtrooms on drug charges, quitting rehab and generally getting up to no good. But it's his relationship with model Kate Moss which really riles Fleet Street most. After all, how could a junkie like him end up with someone like her?
Doherty's girlfriend took her place stage left as the band came on in suits and trilbies. "Smile," says Doherty striding to the front of the stage taking a snap of the crowd. This crowd adores Doherty with the same force as he is vilified by others. They at least get the romantic waster shtick of the one-time singer for the hugely influential Libertines. He's an old-school anti-hero for bedroom poets. During his love song to England, "Anywhere Albion" a small boy sings along on his Dad's shoulders, dressed as a mini-Pete in military cap and bandsman's jacket circa the Libertines days.
And there is no doubt that Doherty is an inspired songwriter and when he can keep it together (like now) a gifted performer. Babyshambles standards, "Kilimanjaro," "F k Forever" and a rendition of the Libertines' "A Time for Heroes" show Doherty at his very best. For "La Belle Et La Bete" (The Beauty and the Beast), Moss steps out from the shadows to deliver the line, "Is she more beautiful than me?" The beast gets the girl and the papers get a photo of Kate in tight plastic pants. Everyone's happy.