Dirty Pretty Things / Humanzi - Manchester Academy 2- 13.3.06
Humanzi? Imcomprenhensible Irish accents, a midget bass player and the sound of Mark E Smith shouting over 2 Unlimited's "No Limits" for thirty minutes. It's bonkers like, we don't recognize any of the songs, but Humanzi are utterly compelling as they thrash their way through 2 minute punk songs whipping the Libertines fans into a frenzy down the front. Now, who's going to write punk songs based on the brief career of the Vengaboys!!!
Musical competence. Yeah sure Dirty Pretty Things have it in bucketloads, but isn't that the anti-thesis of the Libertines. The sort of thing you'd associate with Eric Clapton or Annie Lennox rather than the band of a generation, but after watching his old mucker Doherty fall apart in a mess of crack and abysmal live shows what alternative does Barat have except to try and prove he's the one that held the Libs together.
The problems clear from the outset that Dirty Pretty Things, for all their songwriting prowess, in the live stakes they fall short of Babyshambles anarchic display of rock'n'roll indifference and in the process end up looking like a second rate Razorlight rather than taking the nod from Joe Strummer and The Mesclaros who ultimately showed you could mix musical competency, a variety of styles and still be relevant. With ska, punk and wiry post-punk that made the Libs such an exciting prospect this should be Barats victory tour around the UK to prove the doubters, but compared to the Arctic Monkeys, DPT's seem like a tired relic from times gone by. It's exacerbated when he plays old Libertines classics like "Death On The Stairs" and "I Get Along" where the crowd go mental and we're reminded of the great songwriting partnership between Barat and Doherty, for with the songs behind him Barat shows as he did alone at Leeds festival 2003 that he's still a force to be reckoned with.
Admittedly unfamiliarity with some of the newer material may be a deciding factor with only the hardcore fans trading downloads of his earlier shows in Europe. "Bang Bang You're Dead" packs much more of a punch, both musically and lyrically, live than it does on record and it's for us the natural successive record to "Can't Stand Me" rather than the like of "Killamangiro" or "F*ck Forever". A savage attack on Doherty it's this honest and autobiographical realism that draws you into the soap opera of these two men that truly love each other and can't fully function without the other one being close by, if not physically always on their mind.
Closing on "I Get Along" Barat leaves with a victory of sorts, a victory built mainly on former glories but none the less a victory all the same. It must be tough being a Libertines fan right now because it must dawn on them that if Dirty Pretty Things don't release a killer album it will be the equivalent of The Smiths splitting up before unleashing "The Queen Is Dead" or Suede stalling on the likes of "Animal Nitrate" and never letting Butler flourish on "Dog Man Star". It's tough being a music fan, but sometime you have to move on and you sense many old fans will have moved on after a disappointing first tour for Dirty Pretty Things
Words: Alex McCann
Photos: Karen McBride www.karenmcbride.com
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