Those Libertines never really meant that much around these parts, especially back when you couldn’t turn on the radio or pick up a paper without them being rammed down your throat by someone insisting they were better than the Stones, the Kinks, The Who and every other vaguely English sounding band ever. When you could divorce yourself from all the hype and that bloke in the hat being in the paper and all over the news every day then there were, and still are, some decent moments.
So why are we on about The Libertines today? They’ve not done anything for ages have they? Why are we bothering with them today? Well because there’s an alley we often cut through, behind The Hare in Bethnal Green, just up from Vyner Street here on the Hackney/Bethnal Green borders . It isn’t your usual street-art drenched East London back alley, sure there’s a big Sweet Toof high up on one of the walls, and yes, now and again a D7606 paste-up phone box or a bony looking Skeleton Cardboard piece or something familiar will appear, but this is not your usual street-art hang out, something different happening here.
What’s all the marker pen graffiti about, why are people apparently coming from all over London with their pens and their bits of song lyrics and demands for a new Libertines album? What’s with the stickers from football teams that usually don’t mean a thing around here? Charlton Goons, Brentford Casuals? Every time we walk along it the alley has changed again, cut through again yesterday, and there’s more lyrics, more messages for the band, bits of real primitive stencil work that would be laughed down by any serious street art follower, but this is different, I’m no Libertines fan but this alley is intriguing, I like it here… .
Seems that the alley, a stones-throw from the Albion Rooms, the venue for the infamous spontaneous gigs, the name given to the dilapidated flat that Pete Doherty and Carl Barât shared back when it was all happening, seems the alley has become some kind of shrine for the seemingly still devoted fans of the band. Apparently the flat where the Albion Rooms were isn’t there now, well nothing that can be made out as a place of importance to the fans who quite clearly still need a place to gather. The Albion Rooms have been cleaned up and whitewashed away, turns out that a few minutes’ walk away, ‘Up the Bracket’ Alley is still very much intact.
Turns out that The Libertines filmed the video for ‘Up the Bracket’ in the alley, it looked a lot cleaner then, Seems that since the band split in 2004 it’s become The Libertines’ version of the Abbey Road crossing, a place of pilgrimage for fans with their marker pens, football stickers and beer cans…. I’m no fan of the Libertines, have they reformed now? Everyone reforms, I’m no fan, but I can get what this is about, this alley is intriguing, this is music culture at its best, the primitive bits of graff, the slogans, the hints of turf wars. kind of of reminds you of the days when Robbo (R.I.P) was just an Arsenal hooligan with a can of paint rather than a street art legend. Something very much in the spirit of the Libertines and English youth culture and punk rock and the streets around old school football grounds here, I tend to cut through the alley even when I don’t need to, might even go back and give those Libertines another go now they’re not being rammed down my throat… (SW).
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