Live Gig Report and Photo Credit: Reg Richardson
Like many of the other dates on the UK tour this was a sell-out; 550 soggy people on a Tuesday night crammed into the venue. No supporting band for this gig so it was PiL all the way. Tonight’s line-up comprised John Lydon (aka Johnny Rotten former Sex Pistols) supported by guitarist Lu Edmonds (ex- Damned, Mekons), drummer Bruce Smith (ex-Slits, Rip, Rig & Panic) and bass/keyboards player Scott Firth (ex-Spice Girls, Steve Winwood, Elvis Costello and more). This set-up having been together since live gigs re-commenced in 2009 after a 17-year hiatus. This is also probably the most settled line-up which, in the past, has seen many, many band members come and go.
John Lydon was somewhat bemused right from the start, seemingly joking with his band mates and techs about the lack of space on the crowded stage and kicking his trademark bin across the stage out of the way. To be fair his ‘bin’ was a polybag lined plastic box and so his routine of swigging from a rum bottle and using the bin as a spittoon went out of the window.
The crowd were broken in gently with Albatross from the 2015 album What the World Needs Now which opens with a bass line that sounds remarkably similar to the opening bars of Billie Jean by Michael Jackson….just saying! Lydon enters the fray with his characteristic warbles and the similarity ends right there.
The next two songs, Double Trouble and Know Now are also both taken from What the World Needs Now before he rolls back the years to give us This is Not a Love Song.
From this point on it became a back-catalogue extravaganza with songs taken from the 1978 PiL First Issue album through to the 2012 This is PiL album with Metal Box (1979), This is What you Want – This is What you Get (1984), Album (1986), Happy? (1987) and 9 (1989) all getting exposure. Throughout the gig the tone was set by the heavy bass of Scott Firth which echoed throughout the venue with fills from Edmonds & Smith and laying on top of this was the ever constant, yet instantly recognisable, Lydon vocals. The crowd weren’t quite as animated as I’d expected but they were very vocal and sang along from start to finish.
The main set ended with Rise from Album before another song from the most recent release, Not Satisfied, kicked off the encores. The night closed with a segue between Open Up, the 1997 single resulting from the collaboration with Leftfield, and finally Shoom from What the World Needs Now.
A loud, varied and entertaining show, one well worth seeing as testified by the continuance of sold-out gigs. John Lydon looked nothing like his punk-era self but his bigger than average persona carried the band remarkably well.
This is not a Love Song
Order of Death