Carl Barât – review

The Cockpit, Leeds

A few weeks ago, Carl Barât was one of the headline acts at the Reading/Leeds festival with the briefly reformed Libertines; now he's given a hero's welcome in a small venue. In between lies a story familiar to many a famous band member who tried to do something on their own: a solo album that limped into the charts at 52 and an audience expecting the old hits.

Still, the singer-guitarist has tried hard to break the mould. His new material is influenced by Brecht, Weill and bawdy music hall. The lyrics are as dramatic and poetic as ever – "I've carved my name on the livers of my lovers," he sings at one point – and he isn't short of tunes. She's Something and So Long, My Lover are the sort of rough-edged, big glam power-ballads David Essex would have sung in his prime, while Run With the Boys allies a Motown beat to an unashamed defence of the rock'n'roll lifestyle. However, these baroque, often highly emotional songs do occasionally expose the limitations of a voice roughened by hard living. If he's to progress in this direction, he may have to contemplate the horrors of being in bed by 10pm.

Both Barât's vocal chords and his audience are happier on a blast through his ruffian rock past: two Dirty Pretty Things songs and a whopping six from Libertines days. Even minus Pete Doherty, they generate undeniable excitement, and poignancy drips from Don't Look Back Into the Sun. At 32, it would be harsh if Barât is already imprisoned by former glories, but he can clearly dine out on these songs for the rest of his life.


Dave Simpson

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Carl Barât: Carl Barât | CD review
The sometime Libertine has gone all Brecht and Weill on his first solo album. Oh Carl, says Will Dean, you shouldn't have. No, really, you shouldn't have.

Will Dean

30, Sep, 2010 @9:00 PM

Article image
The rock'n'roll life of Carl Barât

In honour of the publication of Libertines co-founder Carl Barât's autobiography here are some of the unexpected highlights of this generation's defining rock'n'roll rapscalians

The Guide

08, Oct, 2010 @11:05 PM

Article image
Carl Barât: The interview
As the Libertines' frontman, Carl Barât pushed the limits with drink and drugs – plus epic fallouts with band mate Peter Doherty. Now, for the first time, he reveals how therapy and finding love enabled him to make one of this year's finest comebacks. Alice Fisher reports

Alice Fisher

25, Sep, 2010 @11:05 PM

Article image
Carl Barât and the Jackals: Let It Reign review – brief and snarling
This is 35 minutes of punky swagger that acts as a placeholder for the next Libertines album, writes Caroline Sullivan

Caroline Sullivan

12, Feb, 2015 @10:16 PM

Article image
Pete Doherty may enlist Carl Barât for Babyshambles album
Singer plans to show former songwriting partner material from forthcoming album in the hope that 'something great will happen'

Sean Michaels

01, Dec, 2010 @1:52 PM

Article image
Festival No 6 – review

Portmeirion's dream-like setting makes for a surreal and captivating festival built firmly on indie heritage, writes Mark Beaumont

Mark Beaumont

17, Sep, 2012 @5:40 PM

Article image
The Libertines review – rousing and shambolic

Whether you find their inability to play charming or pathetic is really a test of how much you buy into the rest of their shtick, writes Sam Wolfson

Sam Wolfson

06, Jul, 2014 @2:48 PM

Article image
Carl Barât: ‘I had a rule that said you can’t do heroin and crack’
As his new band the Jackals prepare to release their raucous first album, the Libertine talks about writing songs with Pete Doherty in Thailand, playing a rock star on screen and keeping off the whisky

Tim Jonze

05, Feb, 2015 @2:32 PM

Carl Barât: Carl Barât | CD review

Carl Barât's debut solo album is a little bit Phil Spector, says Ally Carnwath

Ally Carnwath

02, Oct, 2010 @11:07 PM

Article image
Carl Barât and the Jackals review – a cabaret of horns and jacked-up punk-pop
As fallback options go, the Libertines and Dirty Pretty Things frontman’s other band are remarkably ardent and bombastic

Mark Beaumont

16, Apr, 2015 @12:26 PM