Glasgow, 02 Academy, Scotland, UK
December 18th, 2009
Lu Edmonds: Guitar / Misc
Bruce Smith: Drums
Scott Firth: Bass / Keyboards
The Rabbit Song (intro) / Public Image / Careering / This Is Not a Love Song / Poptones / Albatross / Tie Me To The Length Of That / The Suit / Death Disco / Four Enclosed Walls / Flowers of Romance / Psychopath / Disappointed / Warrior / USLS 1 / Banging The Door / Chant / Bags / Memories / Annalisa / Religion / Sun / Rise / Open Up
This was one of the shows not recorded for the Concert Live instant CD's.
Audio bootleg recorded
review by Mick Condy, March 2011
© 2011 Fodderstompf.com / Mick Condy
The news of a PiL reunion set forums on fire across the globe with rants of "I'll only go if Wobble and Levene are there" and "It's not the original lineup therefore it's not PiL!"... As I read these comments I knew immediately that the people behind them were the same mob who were screaming and shouting for the Pistols to get back together when the original PiL lineup were creating their masterpieces. They are also undoubtedly the very same people who now shout about Metal Box being legendary when at the time all they were shouting for was another Never Mind the Bollocks. So on these cold winter nights in 2009 these keyboard warriors were sat cosily and warm behind their screens, pontificating about Lydon and PiL while the rest of us, those with the ability to think with our heads outside of the (metal) box went along and had a fantastic time!
Lydon's reasons for reforming PiL may have been personal, but to be honest I'm not really bothered. My favourite band were reforming and would be playing in my city - that was all I cared about. I had waited a helluva long time to see PiL again and was determined to enjoy every single minute of it!
I was delighted to see that two old PiL cohorts has been re-recruited for the reunion! Bruce Smith, who served with PiL for years and Lu Edmonds who served for almost 3 years! I always loved Lu's stage antics! My abiding memory of him will always be him dancing around so wildly that he falls right on his arse and rolls around on the floor, without missing a single note! (Bootleg video of Hollywood Palladium, 5.7.1986).
I must admit that on the day of the gig I wasn't feeling overly excited. Perhaps I had some doubts about whether PiL could pull it off. I had purposely avoided reading reviews of the first two shows and had shunned YouTube footage with the express purpose of leaving everything on the night to be a surprise, especially the setlist which I knew from Lydon interviews would be special.
I must state that I almost didn't make it to the show. A few things came up that afternoon which cast a doubt over whether I would get back to Glasgow on time from a small trip to Benbecula, but to cut a long story short I did make it.
A recent spinal injury meant that I would have to avoid the 'pit' and stand a fair bit back to decrease the risk of being jostled and bumped.
I made it to the Academy (a fucking dreadful venue I might add) in time for the opening of the doors and quickly purchased a pint (£3.35!!!) and found a nice spot on the lower balcony.
As I supped I had a good swatch at the kind of punter the gig had drawn. Of course there was the odd punk who would no doubt be chanting for Pistols songs a little later on (an old tradition at PiL gigs!) but what surprised me most was the number of younger folks hanging around. Not just teenagers, but kids also! Beside me there was a guy with his daughter who couldn't have been more than 7 or 8 - complete with PiL tour shirt and poster! That was a refreshing sight! I got into PiL myself at a similar age, so it's nice to see the same thing happening elsewhere.
At about 8pm Fangs took the stage to a scattered applause. I must admit the name and the look of the band both worried me and I half expected them to be dreadful, but I was rather pleasantly surprised! They were great and I've sinced downloaded a few things of theirs. A local band too! It's sad that such good bands are out there yet shite like the X-Fucktor dominate the mainstream. What a sad, sad world we live in.
After Fangs left the PiL gear was tuned (Lu even made an appearance himself!) and the main hall began to fill up a bit quicker. I'd reckon there were about 1,300 - 1,500 punters, which isn't bad.
The entrance of the band was a bit low key compared to what we're used to from the recent Pistols outings, but of course PiL are different fish so it seemed fitting.From the first song it was obvious the band were having problems on stage. Indeed Lydon had a rant about it after the very first song (a touch hypocritical considering that he apparently doesn't even attend sound checks!)
My biggest surprise was how the band actually sounded. The last thing I expected was a replication of the original PiL sound, which don't get me wrong I love to death, but for a man who always blasted those who demanded the original lineup Lydon seems to have pandered a little to their tastes and demands. In many reviews since it's been stated that Wobble and Levene weren't even missed because they were imitated so accurately. This is true, but it's not necessarily a good thing. Imitation by its' own nature never is... You may argue that PiL can hardly imitate PiL, but they can and did! Often imitated, never surpassed? It seems that this time they were!
It took a few songs to get over this initial surprise but I enjoyed the show nevertheless. I do hope though that should PiL continue to tour and even record that they move away from this approach and find a fresh style and sound.
I didn't find the setlist to be as varied as had been promised, but the surprises that had been assured certainly were surprises. Psychopath from Lydon's solo album sounded fantastic and was one of the highlights of the show for me!
I felt also that the later material (what there was of it!) seemed to be dispatched with in a fairly brutal execution style. Warrior, Disappointed and USLS1 were delivered together in one lump like some chronologically ill-conceived Greatest Hits attempt (and not so dissimilar to the attitude employed on Plastic Box whereby everything from '87 onwards was squeezed onto a single CD!) before they went back to playing the first three albums.
My show highlights have to be the amazing version of Annalisa, the 1989 single Warrior, which has always been one of my all time favourite songs, Death Disco which sounded completely chilling and set closer Open Up, which came as quite a surprise and got the crowd moving more than anything else that was offered!
I was gutted that there was no FFF and no Theme. These have always been my two favourite PiL songs, but on the whole I was fairly satisfied with Lydon's choice. My previous criticisms still stand but it must also be said that it was one hell of a performance. It easily blew the spots off both Pistols gigs that I've been to (Crystal Palace 2002 and Glasgow 2007) so I sincerely hope that Lydon concentrates on PiL from now on. We shall see...
Those who didn't bother going because of their snobbishness or lack of taste will never know what they missed. Serves them right! Lydon may be in his fifties, but the energy and passion that he can put into a single song is unbelievable! And in my opinion the chance to perform a PiL setlist gives a better platform for his vocal abilities. The Pistols are alright, but I simply don't think Lydon has the vocal ability to scream his way through a whole set anymore. PiL at least gives him the chance to actually sing some songs and make a good job of it! He did that in Glasgow, despite being rough with the flu.
Hats off to you John! And Thank You!
Picture Credits: (Top to Bottom)