Review: PiL @ Shepherd’s Bush Empire, 19/07/10

…I really should go to bed having come back just an hour ago from this show, but as I was thirsty I’ve drunk a few caffeine products (wasn’t in the mood for just water) that I need to drain off.

First off, this is the first time I have seen John Lydon live and Public Image Limited live, so it was a real treat as I’ve been a fan of them for eight years now. I was barely born when their second album Metal Box/Second Edition came out.

Though this carnation of PiL has new staff, it still has the same CEO and that was reason enough not to feel bad that there was no Jah Wobble or even Keith Levene. I’ve seen a couple of bands live who are not as they were and realise it’s better to have them that way than not at all in a good few cases, personally. And in any case, the members weren’t totally new, they did feature in PiL’s last latter years.

John Lydon himself was on fine form. He may not be the world’s greatest singer but his voice cuts through the music perfectly and he showed off a decent sense of humour when he attacked the Pope, some stationery members of the audience, and – I think – older band members. I can see why some people would dislike Lydon, but I found him entertaining. He didn’t have an alleged minor bust up with his band like on the previous night, nor anyone else.

As expected, most of the two hours were filled with the hits. There were a few songs I wasn’t familiar with such as Psycho’s Path off his solo album, but most were things people could move along to, or should’ve been moving to at least a little bit – I contributed by nodding my head, which is reasonably animated for a 30yr old.
Though not technically a PiL song musically, they played a fairly rocky version of the Leftfield/Lydon classic Open Up as the last song after the sing-along of Rise. Perhaps my most favourite performance of the night though was Fishing off Album, which sounded quite spot on to the album version.

Other well played songs like Disappointed and Warrior (dedicated to the coalition government) were equally well received as well as all the obvious early stuff like Swan Lake/Death Disco, Albatross, Four Enclosed Walls, Flowers Of Romance etc. I do, however think, recreating Keith Levene’s style was not totally successful, but a good go was given.

The only thing was, having seen video of Lydon going for a piss break (not the actual act of course…), I expected him not to go for a smoke break this time, but maybe a crumpet with some butter!

Lydon left us by promising us that the band (this line-up) will return with a new album and tour later this year.
People can criticise Lydon for cashing in, but I think he’s still more relevant and valid than most acts of my age, and those a little older or younger. Maybe that’s why most of musical heroes are just about old enough to be my Dads!

Okay, now my caffeine hit has expired.

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