Album Review: Peter Doherty – Hamburg Demonstrations

By on Tuesday, 20th December 2016 at 12:00 pm
 

Peter Doherty Hamburg Demonstrations album coverWhen it comes to Libertine and all round British poet/musician/artist Peter Doherty, you’ll often find divided opinion. There are those who are enamoured by his reckless yet gentlemanly demeanour, whilst the other side of the spectrum simply cannot stand him for both those reasons. Wherever you sit on this line, you can’t deny Doherty has written some of the most memorable songs of the last 10+ years with The Libertines. After the infamous splitting of said band, he then formed Babyshambles, a band that had almost as many ups and down as his prior, but without the immediate success. Now here we are with the second Doherty solo album, the follow-up to 2009’s ‘Grace/Wastelands’.

Doherty’s infatuation with Britannia always lends itself to his musical output. He does a sterling job of crafting songs filled with tales of the down and out, the shit on society’s shoe, but he also manages to romanticise it like no-one else. First track ‘Kolly Kibber’ is referencing a character from Graham Greene’s novel Brighton Rock – immediately we’re thrown into a picture of both woe and British romanticism. A much more folky sound – acoustic guitars, quiet drums, piano and bass – turns the song into a classic folk tale rather than a rock ditty, which he favours throughout the entire album. The choice of a folk direction allows the focus to fall upon his words, of which he certainly cannot be disputed at being a master of. On the occasion where electric instruments do make an appearance, they’re used with the same minimalist acoustic, with their only purpose to give a harsher edge to accommodate the darkness found in songs such as ‘Down for the Outing’.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qUUbpeBXse0[/youtube]

There’s certainly a sense that this solo album feels to have more of a focused, sober Doherty at the helm. ‘Birdcage’ is seemingly self-referencing, putting Doherty in a birdcage where the world is able to simple look and judge him, which is inevitably detrimental to his personal relationships. “Only love can bring the secrets of simplicity”: in so few words, Doherty manages to encapsulate a feeling that is impossible to recreate in anyway other than actually falling in love. This carefree and focused turn your mind takes in this state of bliss, where a serenity envelops you. Perhaps, in an almost satirical way, he next focuses upon the choices the youth of America have to make. “Come on boys, you gotta choose your weapon, J-45 or AK-47”. You can hear in his voice that he’s both fully invested in the message of peace and also in just having a good time.

Reaching a poignant moment, ‘Flags Of The Old Regime’ was previously heard back in 2011 after Doherty’s friend Amy Winehouse’s death. Reserved and fragile, the lyrics cut particularly deep when you consider the circus that enveloped and encouraged Winehouse and other celebrities who have gone down a road to ruin: “The fame they stone you with, you soldiered it, and made your fortune, but you broke inside”. Your emotions grow listening to this song, knowing that Doherty himself could’ve succumbed to the tragedy that befell Winehouse. His voice breaks through the gentle cadence he uses, with the final words supporting his recent sobriety, “let’s have it right, we all know the score, we’ve been up for nights, stood behind the door, sparkle on the floor, I don’t wanna die anytime”.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tsHA3C1OK88[/youtube]

A heart on sleeve gentleness hits with early single ‘I Don’t Love Anyone (But You’re Not Just Anyone)’. He uses mostly repetitive lyrics, though when he breaks out of this cycle, Doherty describes love in his unique way, with a raw and unbridled hurt. Perhaps most surprising is the third verse when American Civil war song ‘When Johnny Comes Marching Home’ is introduced. ‘The Whole World is Our Playground’ is more of Doherty’s romantic yearn and hurt, but it’s on finale ‘She is Far’ where these topics take things to a whole new level. Quiet and reserved, he paints pictures of lovers and memories of London, memories that are fading away.

Doherty at a reserved level such as this is a blessing. It shows exactly why he is a gem to British music. Doherty proves on ‘Hamburg Demonstrations’ he can play both erratic rockstar and forlorn folk singer with such ease that those who have sought to condemn him would do well to reconsider upon hearing this new album.

9/10

‘Hamburg Demonstrations’ is out now on BMG. To read more of TGTF’s coverage on Peter Doherty, follow this link

Tags: , , , , , ,

Leave Your Response

* Name, Email, Comment are Required
 
 
 

About Us

There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest music, gigs, and tours we love and think you should too.

We love music that has its heart on its sleeve, tells a story, swims around our head all day or makes us dance like no-one's watching.

TGTF is edited by Mary Chang, who is based in Washington, DC. She is joined by writers in England, America and Ireland. It began as a UK music blog by Phil Singer in 2005.

All MP3s are posted with the permission of the artists or their representatives and are for sampling only. Like the music? Buy it. If you want a track removed, email us and we'll sort it ASAP.

E-mail us  |  RSS Feed   RSS Feed  

Learn More About Us