For a good chunk of his career, Pete Doherty was better known for his escapades and substance abuse issues than for his creative endeavours, with his relationship with model, Kate Moss, fueling the popular media’s interest in his antics. In early 2015, it was announced that Doherty had successfully completed a stint in rehab, and it appears that he has been keeping himself out of trouble since, meaning that his second solo album, Hamburg Demonstrations, has been released without any bothersome revelations to overshadow the music.
So, how does the record stack-up? It certainly has its moments, some of which are due to glimpses of greatness – as with Birdcage, which features a powerful vocal contribution from Suzie Martin that adds a rawness and emotional depth to the track – but most are little curios as the listener wonders what Doherty is doing? Why is he doing that? How is he holding it together? Hamburg Demonstrations was recorded in Hamburg, Germany, a city that Doherty has stated he has always wanted to record in, as it is where The Beatles learnt to ply their trade, and The Beatles influence is evident on songs like Kolly Kibber, and Hell To Pay At The Gates Of Heaven.
The listener is treated to two versions of I Don’t Love Anyone (But You’re Not Just Anyone), with version two coming before the more sterile sounding version one in the track ordering. Despite its ambient, typewriter, intro being too long, A Spy In The House Of Love (Demo Vocals) features an interestingly disjointed guitar – which brings us back to the types of moments the album has – and the parenthetical part of the song’s title highlights the underlying cause of the records, not so much short-comings, but character – Hamburg Demonstrations feels like a series of high-quality demo recordings.