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Public Image Ltd, 23.6.22

Widely regarded as one of the most innovative and influential bands of the 70’s, Public Image Ltd were at Rock City on Thursday night and front man John Lydon didn’t hesitate to remind the crowd what PiL is all about.

This performance did not show them breaking any new ground because it has been seven years since they last released any new material, nor did it see them rewriting the rules. Neither are they aging gracefully because PiL are as disgraceful as ever, but what it did show was that Lydon still has the ability to entertain.

Since reforming their latest configuration in 2009, a reunion financed by Lydon’s Country Life butter adverts, they have toured extensively. With a stable line up the crowd were treated to Lu Edwards wonderful guitar, Scott Firth’s bass, and Bruce Smith’s thumping drumming, but it was hard to take your eyes off Lydon.

He ranted and spat his way through a menacing Religion, and when the band at last kicked in, they proved their vitality beyond all doubt, harnessing the furious energy that makes their music individual and universal.

Alternating between lacerating rage and cynical apathy, Lydon had the crowd tapping their feet for Memories which was quickly followed with The Body and Warrior. With each song approaching the ten minute mark, Lydon was in his element as he gestured like a mad conductor from behind his music stand, shaking his fists and waving his arms as he delivered his trademark echoing sneers and wobbly bellows on the likes of Corporate, The One, and The Room I Am In.

Finishing the main set with the phenomenal This Is Not A Love Song and the no frills Public Image, they were back for the snarling late career highlight, Shoom, their unique take on Leftfield’s Open Up before the wonderful Rise saw the night brought to a close.

Editor of LLR since 2005

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