John Lydon in Conversation Albert Hall Manchester 9th October 2014

“We were all warriors together” (John Lydon, Manchester, 9th October 2014)
The launch event for his new autobiography: “Anger is An Energy: My Life Uncensored”, which was released yesterday.
imageFrom the publicity for the event: “John Lydon will be taking part in an exclusive no-holds-barred live onstage interview with DJ/writer Dave Haslam, discussing his turbulent life, from his beginnings as a sickly child of immigrant Irish parents who grew up in post-war London to his present status as an alternative national hero, via the Sex Pistols, Public Image Ltd (PiL), collaborations with Afrika Bambaataa and Leftfield, compelling opinions and celebrated TV appearances. He’ll also be signing copies of his autobiography. This will surely be one of Manchester’s most memorable pop culture events of the year.”
About the venue (from the website): “A Grade II listed Wesleyan chapel in Manchester City Centre closed and hidden for over 40 years. Resurrected by Trof, the people behind Gorilla and The Deaf Institute, as an unrivalled events venue, restaurant and bar. The grand and ornate chapel has been restored into a stunning purpose built music hall and is set to become one of the most atmospheric music and events venues in the UK.”
johnlydontixI arrived in Manchester early, around 6pm, had a coffee and then joined the queue for entry to the Albert Hall. I took a seat in the front row, and waited for the great man to arrive. Shortly after the advertised start time of 7.30pm DJ Dave Haslam walked on stage, and introduced John Lydon, who received a standing ovation from the crowd. For the next hour or so Dave and John discussed John’s life. lydonangerLydon was as controversial and opinionated as you might expect, giving us his views on politics and how all the parties have moved towards the same ground, his early life and ill-health and his respect for the NHS, his relationship with Sid Vicious, that Sid was a fan of singer Leo Sayer, was named after his mum’s hamster.and how he stills misses him, his belief in the working class and family values, and some thoughts on the birth of punk and how it was needed at the time, and is needed again. The man wears his soul on his sleeve, and in strongly protective of the punk values which he obviously holds so dear. The audience clearly loved him, showing this by giving him several standing ovations. After an hour or so, Dave opened up questions to the floor, and gave members of the audience a chance to throw questions at John, via a roving mike. One guy asked his favourite gigs; he quoted a recent appearance at Manchester and at a massive festival in Croatia; another complemented his music tastes, which are wide-ranging and include the Kinks and Van Der Graaf Generator. After another thirty minutes or so the first part of the evening concluded and we all went downstairs to the basement where John was doing the book signing. It was 9pm.
johnlydonbookI rushed downstairs as quickly as I could, but by the time I got there the queue was already large. I reckon I ended up about half way back in the queue, which swirled around and around the basement, controlled by rows of barriers. Reggae music was blasting as we waited in anticipation for our individual audience with Johnny Rotten, all nervously clutching our books. To his credit, John took his time to talk to everyone while signing, spending a few minutes with each person, and there were 2 or 3 hundred waiting. Because of this movement was slow and it seemed to take forever to get to the front. In fact it took me over 3 hours to get to meet John Lydon. I had a quick chat with him, and asked him if he remembered the first Pistols gig, which I witnessed in Whitby in 1976. I foolishly mentioned that the “Pistols were thrown off stage”. John looked me straight in the eye and said “What did you say? Nobody ever threw me off any stage.” I quickly corrected my statement and made it clear that what actually happened was that the DJ turned the sound off. “Ah.. Now that’s different” said John, smiling. It was after 12.30am when I left the venue. Got home at 3.15am. Tired this morning, but glad I went; it was a fascinating evening spent with a true legend and ‘one off’. Everyone there had so many warm feelings and so much respect for the guy; a man who continues to “always tell it as it is”. Lydon is an enigma; challenging, frustrating, rude, fearless, authentic, insightful; all of those things and more. The things I do to see my heroes 🙂 Happy days.

4 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by steve hewitt on October 12, 2014 at 12:00 pm

    Great story.


  2. Wow. What an amazing story. Love the blog.


  3. […] (see images). Now I have seen John at a similar event a few years ago when he was promoting his last book, in Manchester, where I was lucky enough to meet the man himself and have him sign my book. I have already written […]


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