You are not worthy, we are.
It is my firm belief that Public Image Limited, Gang Of Four and Wire deserve their own Hall Of Fame.
While none of the three ever shook the world in the way that, say, Sex Pistols did, the music that they produced in the 70s still resonates today. Entertainment!, Pink Flag and Metal Box (Gang Of Four, Wire and PIL, respectively) were brilliant exposés of boiling anger and bitter frustration with established political and social climates of the time, yet they often delivered the message in very subtle ways, calling both noise and melody to help them out.
Speaking of anger…if one is took at look at Public Image Limited logo under a certain angle, it sure looks like I in the middle is flipping you a finger.
Coincidence? I think not, since Johnny Lydon (a.k.a. Johnny Rotten) is still angry, as indicated by a pre-show interview that he gave to Boston Phoenix.
The show that the band played at Royale Boston on Monday, then, was a mix of different moods and songs from all over the band’s career, including this year’s This Is…
While the reunion of the classic line-up of Keith Levene, Jah Wobble and Lydon/Rotten didn’t happen on a new album, its still a powerful record – propelled by the same hypnotic rhythms and dubby grooves that defined some of Metal Box material.
As expected, along with a new material (“Deeper Water”, “Out Of The Woods”), the band also played what is their biggest hit to date (“Rise” – with its Pistols-worthy refrain of “Anger Is An Energy”) and a slew of older and classic tracks (“Flowers Of Romance”, “Albatross”, “Chant”, “Religion”, “Death Disco”). They also threw a curveball when the played “Open Up” – originally not a PIL number, but lately it found its way into the setlist of their shows (it was recorded in the 90s by electronic band Leftfield with Lydon contributing vocals to the track).
The most powerful moment of the night came when the band played “Death Disco” – Lydon’s dedication to his cancer-stricken mother Eileen (who, reportedly, heard the lyrics before her passing).
Somewhere in the middle of the performance, the music stopped and all you could hear was Johnny screaming (and practically crying at the same time) into the microphone to a couple of scattered giggles (and possibly a couple of raised eyebrows). Then the beat went on again…
Another notable moment was a seemingly never-ending version of “Religion” with Lydon playing a role of preacher from hell. Yet another notable moment came when drunken patron tried to climb up the stage and was swiftly taken off and ridiculed as a “drunken burl”.
Seeing Johnny Lydon/Rotten up close is surreal to say the least and if the band would’ve stood on that stage without playing anything, it still would’ve been worthy price of admission for that experience alone.
But play they did and with quite a gusto – well done, Mr. Rotten…err…Mr. Lydon. PILZone is, indeed a place to be.
P.S. Check out an excellent review and photographs of the show that the band played in 2010 in Boston – courtesy of Big Takeover (here).
Photo credit: Tim Bugbee