Pil are not your average band. They don’t even do the Big entrance that is the prerogative of a headlining band where the music fades away the lights go down. Not for PIL – they still walk on with the background music still blaring and the house lights still ablaze, and people are still stood chatting at the bar, but strangely this just adds more emphasis to their entrance and has a bigger effect that if they’d done it the standard way.
And there stands John Lydon in all his sarcastic sneering glory, his oversized suit making him look bizarrely small, as a whistful smile passes over his lips and they launch straight into ‘Albatross’ from their ‘Metal Box‘ LP‘ . John thrust his arms aside so that they resemble a wingspan as he shouts “getting rid of the Albatross” he sounds like he means business as he gesticulates wildly to the audience and makes his presence felt.
The percussive start of ‘Deeper Water’ from the latest offering from PIL, last years LP ‘This is PIL‘ cuts through the air at the academy and people are grooving to its beat. It may have been a long wait for this album, but by god it’s well worth the wait!
Anyone who thinks that PIL are just about John Lydon too, is a person that is sadly misguided ….John surrounds himself with only the best musicians and their quality shines through again and again. From the super-tight percussion coupling of Bruce Smith and Lu Edmonds to all rounder Scott Firth, the sound is nothing short of epic all night.
Last years single “Reggie Song” with its melodic chorus has the Academy at Leicester slowly rocking at its foundations, and John gets a bit annoyed at a red light being shone at him and instructs for it to be turned off in his own expletive fashion adding …..”I do not come from the land of the rising sun”…..the lighting situation is swiftly remedied.
Someone from the crowd shouts their dissapointment that it has taken so long for a vinyl or CD offering from the band ….”I had to wait twenty fucking years to break the record company embargo – all good things come to those who wait” he reminds us – and the man speaks sense, the offerings he has given us tonight from their latest album have shone with just as much vigour as the old favourites such as ‘Flowers of Romance’ the beat of which rips the Academy in two, and the funky beats of ‘One Drop‘ that follow it keeps the good people of Leicester in their groove.
Then they surprise with a three pronged attack……’Death Disco‘ , ‘This is Not a Love Song’ and ‘Public Image’, at which point I’m ready for surrender …..as it surely has to be one of the best endings to a show that I’ve seen in a while. All three classic songs sounding as majestic and compelling as they did when I first heard them all those years ago and all three being part of the reason I’m standing here tonight, marvelling in their brilliance.
I fact it’s hard to see what the encore will be seeing as the cluster of songs pre-encore had been so spellbinding. The thumping thunderous tones to ‘Out Of The Woods’ ensure that we do not leave disappointed, and following this with crowd favourite ‘Rise’ which has Lydon screaming “What is Anger?” at the crowd, pointing the microphone at them for them to bellow “Anger is an Energy” back towards him and when they end with ‘Open Up’ it is like a final crescendo of sound that they are riding out on.
It has been a pleasure to spend time on Planet Lydon, and in a world where a majority of music sounds the same, you can be rest assured there will never be anyone else who sounds quite like PIL, a band who never sound dated, and always make me feel like I’m witnessing the future of music.