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John Lydon, aka Johnny Rotten of Sex Pistols (of course!) and band mates reunited to create a new Public Image Ltd. release, This Is PIL! It was 20 year silence from PIL and the record was excellent, so fans eagerly filled Toronto’s Opera House and as hoped Johnny and the talented musicians that comprise PIL, (Lu Edmonds, Bruce Smith and new recruit Scott Firth), made the venue ROAR! Read the review for more details!
For those who know their punk rock history, Public Image Ltd. need no introduction. Formed in ’78, disbanded in ’92 and regrouped in 2009, 2012 marked the release of PIL’s first album in 20 years. The ever formidable lead singer John Lydon (aka Johnny Rotten of Sex Pistols fame), guitarist/instrumentalist Lu Edmonds (The Damned, The Clash), drummer Bruce Smith and new recruit bassist Scott Firth are on tour promoting their latest effort – appropriately titled after such a long absence – This Is PIL. Perhaps fans of the “old” PIL might’ve walked away from Toronto’s Opera House disappointed that the band did not play more of the classic hits (“Public Image” didn’t make the cut); nevertheless, the talented and seasoned musicians made the House rumble.
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The band took to the stage and leapt into ‘80s single, “This Is Not A Love Song,” new track “Deeper Water” and the 10 minute classic, “Albatross.” Older tracks were revamped to fit the new outfit and though such songs sounded slightly different from their original recordings, PIL made each number heavier and punchier. With just three instruments and a computer for the more electronic sounds, PIL created quite a bit of noise.
Edmonds proved amazing to watch as he effortlessly created an array of sounds from his tweaked collection of stringed instruments: guitar, saz and cumbus. Smith pummeled his drums while Firth created the heavy, bass laden riffs that drown PIL’s music. Lydon growled, shouted and bellowed the lyrics in a signature style all his own, and the most avid fans sang along. As the vocalist’s delivery is surely demanding on his throat, his cure was: drink water, gargle Hennessy and spit the remnants in a bucket.
When done with the first few tracks Lydon finally addressed the audience which led to shouts of song titles. “What is this,” Lydon asked us, “are we a fucking wedding band, taking requests?” (The shouting turned to applause and laughter as Lydon chatted on about the band’s relationship with the audience – it is indeed like a marriage was the conclusion.) PIL’s sound is trance inducing; with tracks often in the 6-8 minute mark, most fans stood in place and rocked their body or bopped their head to the repetitive beats. Lydon wanted more.
“What’s that other big city in Canada,” he began, “Montreal? They were louder than you!” He facetiously smiled as the audience booed loudly, but of course this wouldn’t stop Johnny Rotten. “They booed louder than you” he
continued. The concert hall drowned in boos and laughter, “Parlez vous Francais,” he asked in his laden Brit accent. “We don’t believe in French,” a girl returned which made Lydon laugh. “Come now,” he finally retorted, “we’re all one.” Though the concert hall might have been a bit more mellow than anticipated, the majority of audience enjoyed the high octane show.
For the politicized “Religion,” Lydon introduced us to Jesus, Edmonds approached the front of the stage for his guitar solo, and Satan, Firth plucked away on his electric, stand-up bass. Lydon thanked the crowd then paid homage to the rest of PIL and his right hand man John Stevens, who stood on the stage for the performance’s entirety before disappearing with the band backstage.
Their absence was not a long one and PIL returned to close the night with the loudest number yet, “Open Up.” A song Lydon recorded with electronic/dance artist Leftfield, PIL reworked it into a heavy, bass laden performance that literally circulated air from the speakers with each thump into the stacks. At the end Lydon advanced to the edge of the stage, made sure to walk its length, and bowed to the audience. Nearly 2.5 hours later Public Image Ltd. were done.
This Is Not a Love Song
Flowers of Romance
Bags / Chant
Out of The Woods