not a member? click here to sign up
Public Image Limited
The quartet plough through a compelling greatest hits set
Roisin Dwyer, 17 Jun 2011
John Lydon skulks and bobs playfully around the stage. He gobs, blows snot rockets, slugs from a bottle of beer and contorts his face into all manner of maniacal expressions whilst delivering an impeccable assemblage of insurgent anthems. This is not The 100 Club in 1977. It’s the Tripod in 2011 on the occasion of PiL’s first ever Dublin show.
Opening gambit ‘Public Image’ immediately ensnares the crowd, Lydon’s tremulous vocal as vital as ever. The dynamic sonic brew concocted by long-time henchmen guitarist Lu Edmonds and drummer Bruce Smith and relative newcomer bassist Scott Firth is the perfect accompaniment to his shrill intonations.
The quartet plough through a compelling greatest hits set remarkable in its potency. The urgency of the swampy reggae bass and squealing guitar of ‘Death Disco’ is spellbinding. Elsewhere the pummelling percussion of ‘Flowers Of Romance’ offset by Lydon’s disconcerting vocal and Lu Edmond’s eerie piercing cumbus (Middle Eastern banjo) remind us of the almost mystical power a live performance can achieve.
The anarchic sentiment remains intact: Lydon introduces ‘Acid Drops’ as ‘an anti-censorship song’, tweaks the lyrics of ‘Warrior’ to “This is our land, Never surrender”. He wags his index finger in warning and dedicates “Religion II” to “all the altar boys that had to endure the Catholic faith.” The freshness of the songs is extraordinary, their message just as relevant today as when they were written.
Lydon still plays the rebellious miscreant throughout, though his use of a lyric book somewhat blemishes the sincerity of the performance (a minor gripe).
He disappears for a smoke break before returning for a euphoric ‘Memories’, ‘Rise’ (“a proper rebel song”) and a brain-meltingly brilliant version of his and Leftfield’s ‘Open Up’.
A transcendent experience.