Review: Public Image Ltd at the O2 Academy, Birmingham

From the Archives: 22/10/2013

“There may only be one Johnny Rotten, but he’s a big fella. I need to stay off the butter,” cried singer John Lydon as Public Image Ltd brought their brand of abrasive rock to Birmingham.

The Sex Pistols front man may have become famous more recently as the face of a series of butter adverts but judging by the amount of spiked mohicans and leather jackets packed into the venue, it was obvious the loyal punks haven’t forgotten who their hero is.

Support came from Coventry ska band The Selecter, whose 2 Tone performance, fronted by Pauline Black and the dominating figure of Arthur ‘Gaps’ Hendrickson in front of an enthusiastic rhythm and saxophone section, provided the perfect set up for what was an intense evening heavily revolving around the wry perspective and contorted facial expressions of Lydon.

“And the crowd went mild,” rasped Lydon as he continued to taunt the crowd throughout, eager to draw what responses he could from an audience which was unfairly thin on the ground.

This didn’t prevent Lydon delivering a typically impassioned performance and classic post-punk singles such as Death Disco and Public Image provoked a more intense response than the more dense earlier brooding songs.

It may be more than 30 years since they released their debut, but Lydon’s powerful voice still packed a punch and showed no sign of age as his declarations of “all politicians are scum” seem just as mysterious and darkly relevant now as they did back then.

Original article available to view here

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