Musical magic

British rock star Pete Doherty debuts in Tel Aviv.

Pete Doherty (photo credit: Courtesy)
Pete Doherty
(photo credit: Courtesy)
It’s never certain what kind of show you’re going to get out of the unpredictable Pete Doherty.
There’s the electrifying Britpop romp that recalls the days when Doherty was pegged one of the most promising songwriters and front men of his generation, and his band The Libertines were crowned the heir apparent to Oasis. And then there’s the drug-addled shell of his former self – as able to curtail songs mid-tune or walk off the stage in a huff as he is to complete a semicoherent set.
Israeli audiences have apparently concluded that either type of show will provide entertainment value.
Tickets for Doherty’s scheduled debut in the country on April 30 at Tel Aviv’s Barby Club have sold so well that it’s been joined by a second show on May 1. Two of Israel’s top singer-songwriters will open the shows for Doherty – Rona Kenan on April 30 and Noam Rotem on May 1.
Despite his heralded second coming origins more than a decade ago, the 35-year-old Doherty has squandered much of the goodwill thrown his way by living a stereotypical rock star’s by-thenumbers life, including numerous arrests for drugs, failed stints in rehab, onstage meltdowns and, of course, a supermodel – a longtime relationship with Kate Moss.
The tabloid fodder has tended to overshadow the fact that when he’s able to focus on music, Doherty, both with The Libertines and with Babyshambles – the band he formed when he was kicked out the former for drug abuse – possesses the innate ability, charisma and musical explosiveness required of rock icons.
And even though he’s been out of the limelight in recent years, Doherty can still generate headlines, like he did when he gave an interview to Ynet recently and blurted out that The Libertines were going to reunite this summer.
"I don't know if I'm supposed to even tell you this, but we were offered to reform The Libertines for a show this July in Hyde Park. I got the call just yesterday. Well, I said yes,? Doherty revealed, according to an English translation of the interview posted on the website
However, in true Doherty haziness, he apparently had failed to consult with his former band mates, including co-leader Carl Barat, who recently formed a new band and plans to release a solo album later this year. Doherty did, however, further disclose that his reasons for accepting the reunion gig were not entirely artistically motivated.
“Not long ago I listened to The Libertines’ songs on YouTube and had a burst of nostalgia, so I said what the heck,” he told Ynet. “And then they told me how much they will pay us, and I cannot lie to you, I couldn’t say no, at least not in my state right now. I’m in debt. It’s very complicated for me to say no right now; I have financial problems.”
Whether it’s those same financial difficulties that are prompting a Babyshambles reunion tour this summer as well as a series of “unplugged” semi-solo performances this spring which the Tel Aviv shows are part of, fans are willing to give Doherty a third and fourth chance.
It’s fair to say that there will be nothing scripted or show biz about his performances at the Barby next week, where he’ll be accompanied by second guitarist, longtime colleague Alan Wass.
Clips of recent shows have displayed a more clear-headed and robust Doherty leading the way through country, folk and rocking versions of Libertines and Babyshambles tunes, as well as a slew of rootsy covers. Like the most endearing rock & roll, they’re somewhere between loose and inspired but totally authentic. Which is probably why, despite his ongoing career difficulties, the audience for Pete Doherty is still willing to follow him down some dead ends and oneway streets in the increasing likely hope of witnessing the musical magic of which he’s capable.
April 30 and May 1 at the Barby Club, Tel Aviv. For more information, go to