Archive for the ‘Public Image Ltd’ Category

John Lydon, I Could Be Wrong, I Could Be Right Durham Gala Theatre 18 October 2021

LYDON TIX“He’s a legend and an icon, a revolutionary and an immortal. John Lydon – aka Johnny Rotten – changed the face of music and sparked a cultural revolution. The frontman and lyricist of the Sex Pistols and Public Image Ltd (PiL) caused a political earthquake and transformed music for good. To coincide with the publication of his new book, the brilliant, funny and insightful I Could Be Wrong, I Could Be Right, he is touring the UK. Lydon will talk about how he sees life, along with his unique and extraordinary career, and take audience questions during a pyrotechnic, one-off tour. Lydon will be sharing his thoughts with audiences. He Could Be Wrong. He Could Be Right.”(Tour announcement, 2019)

LYDON 5You couldn’t get much more of a contrast: Cliff Richard two days ago and then John Lydon! Two very different icons of popular music. But then, perhaps not as far apart as you might imagine: “Lydon, the uncompromising man of punk, explained his admiration for Cliff Richard: “My parents had a fantastic collection. It wasn’t just Irish folk tunes and accordion diddly-doos, there was early Beatles and lots of Cliff Richard too. The first record I would have ever wanted to buy was ‘Move It!’ by Cliff Richard. It was a really good song at the time and still is.” Richard may be a bit square now, but he influenced tonnes of acts form the sixties. “Early Cliff was a riotous assembly of sorts, and he had moves that left a good impression on a 5 year old.”” (Far Out)

I waited some time for this one. It was originally announced in 2019 and scheduled for 2020; then postponed until 2021. This is quite a lengthy tour, seeing Lydon visit venues up and down the country, promoting his latest book: I could be Wrong, I could be Right. I bought a copy of the book when it was initially issued; one of 5000 signed copies, each presented in a lovely box featuring one of John’s paintings on the cover (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 about that encounter.

LYDON 1The stage was nicely set out with two red velvet chairs, one for John and one for his on tour interviewer. We weren’t allowed to take photographs, hence the image of the stage setup. The evening consisted of two segments separated by a short interval. The entire show lasted around two hours. The first segment was devoted to John telling us some memories of his life. The second and final segment took the form of a question-and-answer session. Attendees were allowed to write questions on special cards and post these in a box, placed at the front of the stage, during the interval.

John was on good form. He really doesn’t care what he says or who he may offend; but then, that’s just him, as he always was. The first segment started with John talking about his early years and being brought up by Irish Catholic parents: a father who finished every sentence with “you f**king c**t!” This phrase would reappear throughout the evening along with many other expletives. One thing I have learned about John, is that he is a mixture of 100% authentic, some exaggeration and speaks from the heart. Through all that he is very, very funny and there is a total honesty about the guy. I hope all that mix makes some sense, somehow. Anyway, that’s how he comes over to me. And so the story continues. We learn a lot about his childhood in a Catholic school run by nuns and priests who abused him in several LYDON 4ways. He talks a lot, and becomes quite emotional, about his wife Nora who has Alzheimers and for whom John is now primary carer. He has been with Nora since the 1970s and she is of German origin and the mother of the late Ari Up of the all girl punk band, The Slits. He clearly has a deep love for the lady and speaks with great affection about how best to deal with, in a very positive way, those who suffer from Alzheimers. He talks also about Jimmy Savile and how he outed Savile on the BBC in the 1970s, only to be banned by the Corporation from then on. He talks briefly about Sex Pistols and the recent court case, referring to his former bandmates in less than harmonious terms; involving more expletives. I guess I won’t be going to any Sex Pistols reunion gig for some time; if ever! “Speaking on the opening night of his extensive ‘I Could Be Wrong, I Could Be Right’ spoken-word tour this week, he ranted: “They’ve turned themselves into really greedy, selfish, nasty f****. But c’est la vie.” (Contactmusic) “JOHNNY Rotten shouted “liars, liars filthy liars!” on Good Morning Britain” (The Sun)

During the interval I chat with my carer Lisa and my sister-in-law Elaine, who has come along with us to the show as she is a fan of John and the Pistols. Now there is a story about this if you will bear with me for a minute. When I was going to see Sex Pistols at Scarborough Penthouse with my late wife, Marie and my friend Trevor, Elaine was a young teenager and cried for us to take her along to see the band. However, the Penthouse being an over 18 venue, we felt we could not risk it as she may not have been allowed entry. She was very upset, and has remained a fan since those days. Back to the show. I also partake in a nice cold pint of LYDON 3Guinness which goes down really well (even through one of those horrible paper straws).

The final segment of the show is the question-and-answer. This features questions about the recent legal case, and one which, most of all, both surprises and pleases me. John is asked who his favourite bands were before he joined Sex Pistols. His answer is, Roxy Music, The Kinks, and to my surprise: the Edgar Broughton Band, Pink Fairies and Status Quo. About the latter, he explains that Status Quo were a pretty great rock band in the early 70s; a sentiment which I fully agree with. He talks about putting his head into the bass bin at a Status Quo concert, something which I remember doing at a Motorhead gig. Very foolish. But Edgar Broughton! I was delighted to hear that he was a fellow fan. Indeed he went on to quote the main line of Edgar Broughton’s single “Gone Blue”: “I love that little hole in the back of her head”. I still don’t fully understand what Edgar was referring to there. Anyway, back to John. Another question asked if he believed Sid would still be alive if he had not met Nancy. John answered “No” and revealed that Sid’s mother was a heroin addict who gave Sid some heroin for his 14th birthday! He spoke quite emotionally and touchingly about his love of Sid and how he was his best mate. He also revealed a love of one of my own heroes: Alice Cooper, and talked about how he auditioned for Sex Pistols in Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood’s SEX shop in the Kings Road, by singing Alice’s “Eighteen” and “Schools Out” in front of a jukebox. The evening finished with John discussing his love of reggae music, how it influenced Public Image Ltd and leading us in a singalong similar to his single “Rise”.

LYDON 2Both Lisa and Elaine really enjoyed the show, as did I. A very entertaining evening with an icon of punk rock and popular culture. It doesn’t come much better than Cliff one night and John two nights later. A short taxi ride and we were back home where Lisa and Elaine hoisted me back into my bed with thoughts of John and Edgar Broughton swirling around in my head, no doubt aided by the pint of Guinness. A great night.

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.

Public Image Ltd Newcastle City Hall 1983 and 1986

Public Image Ltd Newcastle City Hall 15th November 1983 and 10th May 1986
piltixI next saw PIL at Newcastle City Hall in 1983. The line-up of the band had changed completely since the early days are now featured John Lydon (vocals); Martin Atkins (drums; I’d seen him a few years earlier in his band Brian Brain); Louis Bernardi (bass); Joseph Guida (guitar) and Arthur Stead (keyboards). By 1983 PIL had released several singles and three albums, including ‘Metal Box’. The set featured a mix of tracks from the albums, the singles and, surprisingly, The Pistols’s ‘Anarchy in the UK’. Gone was the strange discordant band I had seen in 1978; this version of PIL were more of a straight rock band, which was ok in some ways, but disappointing in others. A great show; the crowd went crazy when they played ‘Anarchy’.
Set List: Public image; Low life; Annalisa; Religion; Memories; Solitaire; Flowers of romance; Chant; Anarchy in the UK; This is not a love song; Attack.
pilprogPublic Image Ltd were back in Newcastle three years later on 10th May 1986. This time the line-up was John Lydon (vocals); the late great John McGeoch (ex Banshees and Magazine, and simply excellent; guitar); Lu Edmonds (ex-Damned and a member of the current PIL line-up; keyboards, guitars); Allan Dias (bass); Bruce Smith (drums). Another great gig. On this occasion I felt that PIL were much truer to the original spirit of the band, partly as a result of John McGeoch’s amazing guitar work. This time they played The Pistols’ classic ‘Pretty Vacant’. Setlist (from a gig in Edinburgh the following evening, but I think Newcastle was similar; I certainly remember them playing Pretty Vacant): Kashmir (I assume this is a different song to the Zeppelin track?); FFF; Annalisa; Fishing; Poptones; Pretty Vacant; Banging the Door; Flowers of Romance; Bags; Tie me to the Length of That; Round; Home; Public Image; Rise; Low Life; World Destruction; Ease.

Public Image Ltd, Creation for Liberation Benefit Gig, Manchester Belle Vue, 23rd February 1979

Public Image Ltd, Creation for Liberation Benefit Gig, Manchester Belle Vue, 23rd February 1979
pil79This was Public Image Ltds 5th gig, and their first in the North of England. I’d been a massive Pistols fan, having seen them twice in 1976 and 1977, so I was looking forward to this one. I’d bought their first album, and found it quite strange and rather disconcerting, it was so different to the Sex Pistols. Marie and I went to the concert which was in the massive Kings Hall our at Belle Vue Manchester. We drove down and stayed at a hotel in the city centre (the Portland I think).
The concert was entitled ‘Creation for Liberation’ and was a benefit gig in aid of the ‘Race Today Friendly Society’. Also on the bill were Bristol’s The Pop Group (punky/jazzy/art-rock), Merger (a great reggae band), and poets Linton Kwesi Johnson and John Cooper Clarke. We arrived early to see all the bands. I remember seeing a lot of people from the Manchester punk scene; a couple of members of the Buzzcocks were in the crowd. Everyone had turned out to see what John’s new band was like. I remember both dub poet Linton Kwesi Johnson (“England is a bitch’ was a stand-out) and local hero John Cooper Clarke (super fast) going down well, and then there was a long wait for PIL. Pil_ButtonThe line-up of PIL was: John Lydon (vocals), Keith Levene (guitar); Jah Wobble (bass) and Eddie Edwards (from the Vibrators sitting in on drums for this one gig). There was a long, cold, ait before PIL came on stage. When they did, they wandered on and Lydon famously said to the waiting crowd, “No gimmicks, no theatre, just us. Take it or leave it”. They then launched into ‘Theme’ and played a set which featured songs from their first album, and the controversial Pistols songs ‘Belsen Was A Gas’ (this was the last time that PIL would ever perform the song, and the last time that it was performed live until the Pistols played it again during their reunion tour in 2002). The sound was poor and murky and you couldn’t hear Lydon’s vocals very well at all. John was as scary and engaging as ever, but overall the band’s performance was a little shaky, and lacking the power and depth that PIL can achieve on a good night. I was hoping we would get a Pistols hit for the encore (I should have known that was never going to happen), but they simply played ‘Annalisa’ again. It was great to see Lydon on stage again, and in a strange way, this was a memorable concert. It represented everything that PIL was about at the time: challenging, strange, not quite what you would expect, noisy and discordant.
Set List: Theme; Annalisa; Low Life; Religion; Attack; Belsen Was A Gas; Public Image; Annalisa
Thanks to Paul B. Toman for allowing the use of his image of the PIL button badge through the Wikimedia Commons licence agreement.

Public Image Ltd Newcastle Academy 6th August 2012

Public Image Ltd Newcastle Academy 6th August 2012
At last, I finally “got” what Public Image Ltd are about. Last night was the first time I’ve seen Lydon’s band for many years. Marie and I went to one of their first live performances at Manchester Belle Vue in 1979. At the time the difference between PIL and Lydon’s previous band, The Sex Pistols, was just too great for me and many people in the audience. I couldn’t believe or understand the noise that they were making and actually wondered if they were serious, or whether it was some sort of huge joke. I saw them a couple of times after that at gigs at Newcastle City Hall, and although each time I enjoyed the experience, I still remained unconvinced. Until last night. I went along on spec, deciding to go to the gig at the last minute. I was dropping Laura off in Newcastle, and decided to make the most of my trip through. I’d read reviews of recent PIL gigs, which have all been very positive. Now I know why. The band were just great last night in Newcastle Academy. I arrived just in time for the show, and scored a ticket outside for £20, making a small saving on the £25 face value (result!). The place was packed full of oldish punky types, and everyone was ready and up for the occasion. There was no support act, and the band came on stage around 8.45pm, opening with This is not a love song, which set the tone for the night. Loud, throbbing beats, Lydon’s impassioned vocals, and jangling, discordant guitars. The band were so together and so very tight. Every song was epic, and Lydon sang his heart out. At one point he told us “I’m like a fine wine, I mature with age” and he wasn’t far wrong. His voice was amazing, and so strong. Last time I saw him was fronting the reformed Sex Pistols at Brixton Academy, and although that was a great gig, at times Lydon seemed to be treating it all as a bit of fun. Not last night, he was deadly serious as he spat out the vocals, leered at us, and told us “Friends are for forgiving, Politicians are for killing”. Very dark, very intense, very passionate and much much better than I imagined or could have hoped for. Some bands can reinvent themselves and come back even better. Setlist: This is not a love song; Deeper water; Albatross; Reggie Song; Disappointed; Warrior; Flowers of romance; Lollipop Opera; Death Disco; Bags / Chant; Religion. Encore: Out of the Woods; One drop; Rise (left during Rise, via the chip shop, as I had an early start in the morning to pick Laura up first thing; I suspect there may have been one more song).