Forgetting about the elections for Pete’s sake

by Stephen Tall on May 7, 2011

Well, that was a thoroughly depressing day! All chances of voting reform for a generation down the pan, and the Lib Dems knocked for six by the voters. That’s democracy for you, I guess… Perhaps, after all, liberalism’s concern to stick up for oppressed minorities is more to do with rational self-interest than enlightened altruism.

To save myself from such musings of doom, I spent last night watching Pete Doherty play the Oxford O2 instead. It was a pretty surreal experience.

I had expected the concert to be sold out, and it was. What I hadn’t expected was the audience demographic: about 75% male, mostly beered-up and mob-handed. I’d assumed, wrongly, Pete’s little-boy-lost look would have attracted more female fans, but no.

As a result, there was — along with the stench of stale sweat — something of a football crowd atmosphere to the concert: plenty of chanting, a bit of drink-flinging, and the weirdly homo-erotic tendencies of heterosexual blokes en masse in noisy, confined spaces to prove their manliness by leaping about while squeezing the living bejeesus out of their best mates.

The blokey rowdiness was an odd juxtaposition with Pete, who — for all his six-or-more-footness — is gauchely fragile, with a sublime touch on the guitar, earthily poetic and resonating songs, and a quite angelic voice. Awkward when speaking, he mesmerisingly owns the stage when playing (even when, oddly but cutely, he’s joined by two ballerinas accompanying his greatest hits).

Here’s a video which provides a flavour of his awesomeness…

So good, I temporarily forgot that I live in a country where the voters suck.