It was over 30 years between my first seeing John Lydon’s PiL in 1983 and more recently in 2015 but this was a most welcome return for Johnny (“I used to live around here!”) and PiL, with the UEA LCR almost full, deservedly so after a brilliant gig last time and very fine recent releases.
Tonight we once again had a dj selection of heavyweight dub vinyl and 1970s roots reggae until Public Image came onstage about 9pm. I’m sure I spotted LKJ’s Forces of Victory going back into the box but alas didn’t hear it.
A few songs into the set Lydon confessed “I’ve only gone and got the flu again, in’t I? The hotel doctor put me on antibiotics and now I’ve taken so many I can hardly think let alone sing so if you call that singing so far then you are good friends of mine!” Very modest really because he sounded good and had just delivered a storming Warrior vocal performance, his is one of THE great voices in music. He proceeded to self-medicate and down some pills with a swig of whiskey, the crowd cheered their approval of his voice and this seemed to give him extra strength, the set really grew in power throughout. I had my own reasons to self-medicate with some excruciating sciatica so reluctantly gave up my excellent vantage point near the front about halfway though the gig to move my legs, which took me in the direction of the bar. (A friend said we were “handing over the baton to the youngster”!), and the usual bar lottery meant I had a pint of Mosaic that tasted uncannily like cider. Still can’t work out if it was a mistake or a bad pint but the other Mosaic drinkers noticed the same thing. Anyway, even a Lydon with a supposedly under-par voice is still infinitely more charismatic and formidable than anything passing for music in the top twenty of the charts these days, which is basically the same generic, whining bloke in all of those chart positions anyway. We need the likes of Lydon more now than ever.
PiL have a stong and settled lineup these days that includes Bruce Smith (The Pop Group, The Slits, New Age Steppas) on drums, Lu Edmonds (The Mekons) on guitars, bouzouki and baglama, and Scott Firth on bass. All credit to Lydon for doing the gig feeling the way he did anyway – he even had his own spittoon onstage! -and powered through. The crowd admired him for it and were onside with him. He looked like a preacher at the pulpit … he had a congregation listening to his every word.
The set was a mix of recent material, which is strong, and a generous sprinkling of older numbers from throughout their 40 year career thus far. Highlight for me was probably Flowers of Romance but we were also treated to This is Not a Love Song, Rise, Death Disco, Open Up, Body, Warrior, and of course Public Image itself.
Perhaps not quite hitting the immense heights of that superb 2015 show due to his flu but it was still an excellent gig and we should be grateful it happened at all. Johnny seemed to be genuinely enjoying himself though, despite his flu, which seemed to make it feel all the more special. What a band too! Both gigs far more memorable for me than that 1983 visit.
The previous night saw the welcome return of OST to Cinema City. The music now held in the courtyard due to a puzzling redesign of the bar (presumably the eye-watering beer prices are funding that) but the courtyard is a beautiful for the music, if chilly on this particular evening. We were treated to excellent sets by Kimberley Moore and Alfie Carpenter (joined by Sian Croose), Dawn Chorus, and the superb Of the Clay. At one point before the music started a nestling bird fell from its nest, unharmed, and spent a large part of the evening behind an amp, chirruping with perfect timing when Kimberley sang of “grounded birds”. OST will be back in three weeks and then fortnightly until September.
On Thursday at Fine City Blues’ weekly night at The Murderers we saw the welcome return of Dove and Boweevil after Lauren’s extended travels. The Murderers looking more like Fine City Purple and Blues, there was a full crowd and the band sounded fantastic, rich, full and warm, the Hammond organ and sax giving things a beautiful soulful Stax-like vibe and they were all playing with obvious relish. More of this please!
all rights reserved (c) shashamane 2018