• Pete Doherty plays sold-out gig for Northwich Plaza's first ticketed event since reopening
  • WATCH: Early bird fans are treated to a pre-gig warm-up on the street outside
  • WATCH: The Libertines frontman brings his two huskies on stage part way through the show
  • WATCH: Doherty came back out long after going off stage to play Libertines hits to a small group of fans

MUSIC fans in Northwich were treated to a spectacularly bizarre night of musical talent, revelry and off the wall madness as Pete Doherty came into town on Saturday.

The night started with a warm-up gig on the street outside, then saw guitars being thrown into the crowd and Pete’s huskies being called onto stage, before finishing with a spontaneous acoustic set for the few who’d stayed behind long enough. What else would you expect?

The owner of the former bingo hall, Will Godfrey, is keen to reopen the building, after it has stood vacant for many years at the top of Witton Street.

And for its first ticketed event, raising money for its permanent reopening, putting Pete Doherty and his new provocatively-named band The Puta Madres on stage proved to be a stroke of genius.

With the bundles of charm and nostalgia that the venue oozes, it was a perfect fit to have the man often referred to as the ‘last of the rock romantics’, grace the stage.

Those who got to the venue early were shocked to be treated to a pre-gig warm up. They found Pete, perched on a wall around the back of The Plaza and opposite Sainsbury’s, serenading a small group of fans with his acoustic guitar - taking requests and wishing everyone a fun-filled night ahead.

Watch Pete Doherty's pre-gig warm-up to fans on the street outside Northwich's Plaza. Credit: Dirty Laces. 

That was a sign of things to come. The unpredictability of Pete’s performances has become, in itself, predictable. But the bustling Plaza crowd lapped up every minute – after all, Northwich hasn’t had too many nights like this one recently.

Coming on stage to announce support act Dirty Laces, the star of the show carried on where he left off on the street outside, keen to interact with the crowd throughout the night.

Trying out their new tracks, it was almost as though the crowd were being invited to a private jam session. With no real order or setlist, the next song was decided off the cuff with a group huddle, or by Pete talking his bandmates through a sequence of chords he’d decided to start strumming.

Many of the garage-rock qualities fans of The Libertines and Babyshambles have loved over the years are very much alive and well in this latest project - the playful-yet rough-round-the-edges riffs and sing-along choruses are present throughout.

Pete’s on-stage rapport with lead guitarist Jack Jones is a touch reminiscent of his close bond with Libertines bandmate Carl Barat.

But a welcome new addition is violinist Miki Beavis, who drags the often erratic and wayward Doherty and co back with some powerful and harmonious riffs and licks.

Away from the music, Pete was in top form with his familiar roguish charm. Half way through the set, an incoherent call was repeated over the microphone, leaving on-lookers - who could just about make out two names – scratching their heads. All became clear when the frontman’s two Siberian Huskies came running from side-stage.

Not fazed by the cheers and flashes from the crowd, the pooches sniffed around for a while before wondering back off into the wings.

Watch the moment Pete Doherty's dogs joined him on stage at The Plaza... 

Throwing his guitar into the crowd, Pete stood under the bingo board which still decorates the back of the stage and sang one line from The Libertines’ song The Good Old Days - ‘If you’ve lost your faith in love and music, the end won’t be long’. But for those who were lucky to stick around after the majority had left the building, the night wasn’t quite over.

Coming back out as the lights came on and the stage was being packed up, Doherty, accompanied by Beavis, played a series of Libertines and Babyshambles covers to the lucky crowd of no-more-than 200 stragglers, before reluctantly retiring once again.

Watch Pete and Miki perform Don't Look Back into the Sun to the few who'd stayed behind at The Plaza...

Despite what happens now, it was a night that Northwich folk will remember. But whether it will act as a catalyst for this incredibly unique venue remains to be seen.