Libertines star Pete Doherty raises cash for Southsea music and mental health charity, Tonic, with pair of 'intimate' shows for his new album with Frédéric Lo, The Fantasy Life Of Poetry and Crime

INTIMATE gigs by indie star Pete Doherty with his latest side-project have helped raise more than £1,000 for the Southsea-based music and mental health charity, Tonic.
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The Libertines’ co-frontman appeared at the charity’s Prince Albert Road headquarters with Frédéric Lo as part of a short tour to promote the pair’s new album The Fantasy Life Of Poetry and Crime.

The duo, plus Katia Doherty-De Vidas on keys, played two sold out shows, at 5pm and 7pm on Wednesday.

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The charity made £1,073.40 from raffle for ultra-rare vinyl versions of the new album and merch sales – including a Tonic T-shirt designed by The Libertines. In a further boost, Pete will also be making a donation from the the day’s ticket sales to the charity.

Tonic joined The Libertines on their last UK tour, raising money and awareness for their work. They had been introduced by the charity’s patron, The Specials frontman Terry Hall.

Charity founder Steph Langan said: ‘We met Pete after Terry Hall invited us up to Coventry for a series of shows he put together for The City of Culture, and The Libertines were playing it as well. We met Pete’s manager, then they invited to join us on the tour and it’s just grown from there.

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‘They’ve been amazing, the whole team from the band to the management, the crew – they’ve been so accommodating to us and really supportive.’

Pete Doherty signs fan Michelle Sammars' arm at a launch gig for his new album at the Southsea HQ of the charity Tonic. Picture by Paul WindsorPete Doherty signs fan Michelle Sammars' arm at a launch gig for his new album at the Southsea HQ of the charity Tonic. Picture by Paul Windsor
Pete Doherty signs fan Michelle Sammars' arm at a launch gig for his new album at the Southsea HQ of the charity Tonic. Picture by Paul Windsor
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Tonic have also been running training sessions at The Albion Rooms, the hotel owned by The Libertines in Margate.

One lucky super-fan got Pete to draw a self-portrait on her arm, which she planned to get turned into a tattoo. A long-term Tonic supporter Michelle Sammars, from Southsea, said: ‘I’m the biggest Libertines fan ever. I asked Steph years ago to get The Libertines to do a gig for them. I never expected this to happen! I’ve met Pete before, but never like this, this was so intimate, it was incredible.’

Previously known for his drug-fuelled antics and tabloid-friendly relationships with Kate Moss and Amy Winehouse, Pete has now been clean since December 2019, and married Katia – his bandmate in another project, The Puta Madres – last September.

Pete explained how he came to know Tonic: ‘It all started quite naturally – like some relationships do. I had heard that they were a mental health charity which was also involved in music, I wasn't really quite sure who they were at first.

Pete Doherty performs at a launch gig for his new album with Frederic Lo at the Southsea HQ of the charity Tonic. Picture by Paul WindsorPete Doherty performs at a launch gig for his new album with Frederic Lo at the Southsea HQ of the charity Tonic. Picture by Paul Windsor
Pete Doherty performs at a launch gig for his new album with Frederic Lo at the Southsea HQ of the charity Tonic. Picture by Paul Windsor
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‘But it was Terry Hall – it was his recommendation which sealed the deal, he's been a hero to me since I was 15/16, I idolise the guy.

‘He's talked openly about his mental health problems, and we all have our struggles – him and his family, and me and mine, and he seemed pretty certain that Tonic were just good people doing something good.

‘We built up a bit of trust with them, and they came on tour with The Libertines, I think we've just been feeling each other out.

‘Then coming here today has been amazing.’

The album launch tour only made three other stops – the prestigious The Cavern Club in Liverpool and The 100 Club in London, plus The Brook in Southampton.

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With Tonic’s HQ being the only unconventional venue on the run, how did the shows there come about?

‘You can't say no,’ added Pete, ‘what they're doing here is so amazing and important.

‘I'm quite a volatile person emotionally and psychologically as well, and I've always looked for quick and easy answers to these problems, but there aren't any, really.

‘But some people seem to have a better understanding than others, and fortunately they're the people who are working here and giving their time to others with mental health problems and addictions, or anxiety.’

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‘That's another great tonic for any problems – it's music, it is like a drug, it can be a sedative, it can be a stimulant. It can be both those things – sometimes in the same song.’

Serial collaborator Pete wrote The Fantasy Life of Poetry and Crime with Frédéric in Normandy, where he now lives.

‘Even as we were finishing these songs at the kitchen table in France, I remember thinking, this is such a relaxed way to work. He doesn't really know anything about Libertines or (Pete’s other band) Babyshambles, it wasn't his thing – he's learning about all that now.

‘And he's only known me since I've been clean as well...

‘But I like to think we've set the bar quite high for future projects – we've written some good songs together.’

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Asked whether the duo have a future beyond this album, Pete said: ‘He's quite prolific actually – even yesterday, while we've been on the road, he pulled the guitar out and he had another new one, we were tinkering around with it and it sound really good. Maybe there's some more songs there, you never know!’

The Libertines are in the special guest slot at Victorious Festival on Sunday, August 28. Pete played it as a solo act in 2017 – a last minute replacement for Jesus and Mary Chain.

‘We're doing a few festivals this summer. It was great last time we did it in Portsmouth.

‘My mate Hannah Loftus, she's an actress and a poet from Portsmouth, she got up on stage and did some poetry with us. i was going to invite her down here for this, but I haven't had a phone for two years now, so I couldn't get hold of her.

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‘If she's reading the local paper: “Hello Hannah, hope you're alright, I'm thinking of you!”’

For more about Tonic’s work go to tonicmusic.co.uk.

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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