Dirty Pretty Things, Waterfront, Norwich

Waterfront, Norwich

To music fans and mere observers alike, it's plain that Carl Barat and Pete Doherty's post-Libertines ride has been bumpier than a bike ride across the moon, and has garnered just as much attention. While Doherty became a tabloid superstar, his former partner in baby-faced crime, Barat, took a back seat, and has waited until now to unleash his new mob on the UK's pubs and clubs, a band made up of former members of the Libertines and the Cooper Temple Clause. Unsurprisingly, what with their joint history, all four look more than the part, Barat centre-stage in leather jacket and jeans, an East End version of the Fonz, the rest like a pretty boy biker gang.

Opening with Dead Wood, a pulsing power trip with a cut-and-thrust chorus and indefatigable urgency, Barat seems comfortable back in the spotlight, and relishes the crowd's attention. But with various audience members in Libertines shirts and his former band's trademark pillar-box red guardsmen jackets, you can't help but wonder if this is the type of attention Barat really wants.

If You Love a Woman, with its Rolling Stones stomp laced with cockney charm, the heavy Clash-like ska of Gentry Cove and the incessant, truculent shout-fest of You Fucking Love It, could all easily fit on either of the Libertines' albums. The fact that Barat chooses to play Libertines classics Death on the Stairs and I Get Along, and that both songs are the best of the night, seals the deal even more.You can take the man out of the band, it would seem, but you can't take the band out of the man.

The evening's highlight is France, sweet acoustic balladry somewhat derisorily ruminating on the pros and cons of foreign women, but Barat and his new boys need to go someway further to step out from the shadow of gigs gone by.

· At Northumbria University (0191-239 3926) tonight. Then touring.


Leonie Cooper

The GuardianTramp

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