the secrets of simplicity

‘Hamburg Demonstrations’ by Pete Doherty

Turning up to Clouds Hill Recordings studio unannounced is only really going work if you carry as much talent and musical prowess as The Libertine’s Peter Doherty. Hamburg Demonstrations is Doherty’s second solo album, being released a mere 14 months after the storming success of The Libertines Anthems for Doomed Youth.

While presenting a familiar Libertines twang with Hamburg Demonstrations, Doherty loses the soft punk-edge we all associate with his band and replaces it with a seemingly sensitive mix of entrancing acoustic and soft electric guitar playing. Doherty manages to establish his own sense of style while keeping the boyish, feel-good flamboyance shown across The Libertines’ discography.

Yet, the music certainly isn’t where the credit should lie in Hamburg Demonstrations. Admittedly, like a lot of The Libertine’s music, it can become seemingly monotonous with a tendency to stick to what they know, keeping things too simple. Once you look past the music however, especially in Doherty’s solo projects, you begin to see a different angle to the music. Observing Doherty’s detailed lyrics allows you to see past the dangerously simple music, transforming itself into an album characterised by political poignancy, nostalgia and heartbreak.

Boasting a new recording of what is now known as Flags from the Old Regime, the touching Amy Winehouse tribute shows Doherty’s emotional side, reflecting on her inability to deal with fame, the intimate yet drug fuelled relationship. In its own right however, this song remains fantastically nostalgic, a rare tribute to a soulful and talented musician.   

The quality of the ending of Hamburg Demonstrations simply cannot be disputed, perhaps creating the most emotionally stimulating track on the album, Hell to Pay at the Gates of Heaven. Lamenting the fact that youths are now picking up guns instead of guitars, Doherty mentions the mystical Gibson J-45, a favourite of John Lennon, simply asking ‘come on boys, pick your weapon, J-45 or AK-47?’. The song was actually written around a year ago, just after the Paris Attacks, acting as a simple reminder to the power of peace and love advocated by Lennon himself; a touching finish to a truly complex album.

Album Rating: 6/10

Standout track: Flags from
the Old Regime

Release: 2nd December, 2016


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