Hackney Empire – May 19th

Peter Doherty’s first show in London in over a year is a celebratory run-through of fan favourites that has just about enough charm to save it from being bland, but the juxtaposition of Peter’s ramshackle approach with the stateliness of the Hackney Empire sometimes feels mismatched. Starting with the terrific 2012 off cut ‘Down For The Outing’ (which I sincerely hope makes the next solo album) Peter convincingly noodles his way through the set backed by accordions, fiddles and Babyshambles bassist Drew McConnell. New song ‘The Whole World Is Our Playground’ is a lively moment, and fresh from last year’s re-recording ‘You’re My Waterloo’ sits beside ‘Albion’ as the set’s big singalong moment.

As a performer Peter’s on top form: guitars are shabby, stagecraft is energetic and he more than once commands a deafening chorus of voices. It’s great to hear him play ‘Back From The Dead’ but things go a little south after that. Babyshambles’ ‘Killamangiro’ and The Libertines’ ‘Time For Heroes’ – two of the best songs he’s ever written – both lack the meat and bones of their original bands and arrangements. It’s a very good thing then, that he chooses to end with a stunning rendition of ‘Flags of the Old Regime’ – an elegiac song for departed friend Amy Winehouse. It’s not Libertines or Babyshambles, and it’s not even a promo for his next album, but in terms of reconnecting with Peter, this show is often as good as it gets for his fans.