Yorkshire Post, December 17th, 2009

© 2009 Yorkshire Post

Public Image Ltd
Leeds, Academy, December 16 2009

By Duncan Seaman

He's had plenty of imitators over the last 30 years but there really is only one John Lydon.

Now back fronting Public Image Ltd, the post-pretty-much-everything group that he founded after the messy demise of the Sex Pistols in 1978, he seems to have relit his creative fire after a long hiatus.

Flanked by a sturdy rhythm section of Bruce Smith and Scott Firth, and the versatile Lu Edmonds on guitar, keyboards and a variety of unusual instruments such as the bouzouk and electric saz, we're promised a two-hour set full of "proper music for proper people".

The opening sequence is certainly stunning. A compelling Public Image is followed by the dubby delights of Careering and Poptones from PiL's 1979 landmark album Metal Box and the band's biggest hit, This Is Not a Love Song.

In between numbers Lydon tries to lubricate his tattered vocal cords by gargling theatrically then spitting it out. "Brandy versus Chloraseptic - I will give them both a go," he says with a throaty chuckle.

By Trials and Tribulations he's whipped himself into a emotional maelstrom. "That was a happy f***ing tune about being born," he observes sardonically afterwards. "Pretty good stuff. My Dad didn't think so - may he rest in peace."

Death Disco burns with a similar intensity before the lighter tribal beats of The Flowers of Romance kick in.

In Warrior Lydon turns his ire on British politicians. "Guy Fawkes was a warrior!" he proclaims. "I'm a warrior! Leeds warriors!"

A set this long inevitably has its lulls but there's no doubting the anger behind the diatribe Religion.

By contrast the encore is almost jolly. In The Sun skips along on a tuneful melodica line, while Rise is simply epic, with Lydon inviting the audience to join in in its chorus of "Anger is an energy".

There's a great deal of life in the old Rotten one yet.


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