U.K. alt. rock band the Libertines marked its official comeback yesterday (Mar. 31) with a characteristically shambolic press conference, which saw singer Pete Doherty chastise a member of the assembled press for "ruining people's lives."
Following the announcement earlier this week that the four-piece group were to reunite and play the U.K. dual site Reading and Leeds Festival, Aug. 27-30, a selection of U.K. media were invited to London pub, Boogaloo, where the reformed band hosted a memorable Q&A session that ended with an impromptu acoustic jam.
Given the act's troubled history, perhaps the most surprising aspect of the event was that it began only 30 minutes behind schedule. Once all four band members - Pete Doherty, Carl Barat, Gary Powell and John Hassall - did appear, however, it didn't take long for events to take a farcical turn with Doherty introducing proceedings by stating "welcome to Wednesday night cabaret with The Libertines."
Events took a sour turn half way through the 30-minute press conference when Doherty - who has had a well-documented history of drug problems - was asked by a U.K. tabloid journalist what his memories were of the last time that Libertines played the reading/Leeds festival. The singer was forced to miss those shows when he was sacked from the band.
"I've got memories of you and your newspaper calling me a crackhead for six years," stated an angry Doherty before making an unprintable accusation about the journalist and adding, "you ruin people's lives."
The rest of the press conference did, however, progress in more friendly terms.
Asked why the group had chosen to reform now, Barat said, "It's been gestating for a while," later stating, "it's something that we've been dreaming about for six years to get onstage as The Libertines and it be real and mean it."
At present, The Libertines are booked only to perform two U.K. festival shows as part of the Festival Republic organized Reading and Leeds Festivals. Quizzed on whether more shows and new material would follow the band were non committal, with bassist Hassall explaining, "we'll just take everything at it comes."
"We'll do these gigs and hopefully have a great time and then maybe that will be the start of something," Hassall continued.
The band also revealed that they had been unable to secure insurance for the two U.K. gigs, while a question about the band's rumored 6 figure sum for appearing as part of the festival was brushed aside by Doherty who joked: "What's appealing about it is the money that's left over after tax, which luckily is just about enough to pay last year's tax bill."
Although The Libertines never made much of a splash in the States - total U.S. album sales stand at 194,000, according to Nielsen Soundscan - in the United Kingdom the band enjoyed considerable success, building a devoted following and inspiring scores of British guitar bands before they underwent an acrimonious split in 2004. Total U.K. album sales stand at 718,000, according to the Official Charts Co (OCC), although the band's stature and profile in its home country far exceeds that figure.
Following the end of The Libertines, both Doherty and Barat enjoyed moderate success with their respective bands, Babyshambles and Dirty Pretty Things.
"We were so desperate to do something and we couldn't quite figure out what it was but it was something to do with performing songs," Doherty said reflecting on The Libertines' origins.
"We we're falling over ourselves to do it and it all got so messed up. But looking back, we actually did produce something that we're all so proud of and we just want to get back to that," he went on to say.
The band wrapped the event with a brief acoustic set, which included stirring versions of fan favorites "Death On The Stairs" and "Can't Stand Me Now."