'Less a shambles, still a racket, as Albion enjoys their champagne years'
Andrew Trendell

11:03 27th September 2014

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"Alright, Ally Pally?" beams Pete Doherty to the howling masses, raising a glass with a wink. "I see you found a babysitter then?"

Indeed, the stylish kids that were once in the riot that fill Ally Pally may have aged and appear tonight with a few more lines by the eyes, having long since hung up their cherry-red tunics, but the spirit remains. 

The ups and downs of their Hyde Park gig at British Summer Time have been well-documented - the band were on fine form, but all was marred by poor organisation and the gathering of pricks just out for a ruckus. For the first time, the shambles was everywhere but on stage.

Now, after months of touring on the reunion train, The Libertines stand on stage like the band they never had the chance to become. The all-round tightness and the jam that leads into 'Begging' reflect a band who are here for the music, all scandals forgotten. The romance remains, but now they play as a unit worthy of their legacy. 

The sense of occasion is not lost on the band. From Doherty's wild-eyed harmonica solo to Barat's frank confessions ("I tried to play this one at a gig in my kitchen once, and got the solo a bit wrong"), The Libs consciously seek to make for all of those cancelled gigs, years of inaction and the ultimately unfulfilled promise.

It's a 24 song set of the class where the music alone speaks volumes. Not a dry eye remains from 'Music When The Lights Go Out' and the eruption saved for 'The Boy Looked At Johnny' can't even be measured. As Barat notes, London feels like the centre of the world, and The Libertines sit in its nucleus. 

Returning for an encore to read out a letter from a 15-year-old fan in Germany, there's a humility resonating from the band - well aware of their fortune at having such a dedicated following to keep them going. What they do for them next by way of new material remains to be seen, but all remain hopeful thanks to this snapshot of The Libertines in 2014: less a shambles, still a racket, enjoying their long-delayed champagne years.

A nostalgia element there may well be, but the timeless strength of the songs is all that matters. They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old. They remain in a class of their own, my love. 

The Libertines play Alexandra Palace again tonight (27 September) and tomorrow (28 September). For tickets and more information, visit here

The Libertines played:
The Delaney
Campaign of Hate
Time for Heroes
What Katie Did
The Ha Ha Wall
Music When the Lights Go Out
Boys in the Band
Lust of the Libertine
Don't Look Back Into the Sun
Can't Stand Me Now
Love on the Dole
The Boy Looked at Johnny
Tell the King Last
Post on the Bugle
Death on the Stairs
The Good Old Days
Arbeit macht frei (tease)
You're My Waterloo
Up the Bracket
What a Waster
I Get Along

Below: 18 blinding, exclusive photos of The Libertines at Alexandra Palace

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Photo: Emma Viola Lilja