Although not anticipating a trip outside, by the time 10 PM rolled around I was ready to grab a couple CDs and cigar for a trip to the truck. So my choice this evening were two relatively short music sets.
First to shake up the night air in the driveway was Baroness, their first (2004) and second (2005) official albums, six songs apiece and together lasting a little over a half hour.
"Baroness’ style is a modern interpretation of classic metal. Raised amidst Iron Maiden, Slayer, and the like, these EP's (First and Second) speaks the language fluently. There’s an emphasis on “smart” playing – technical without being wanky and showboating – and a sense of musical melody that contrasts well with the hoarse bark of the vocals. The songs go by too quickly, but while they’re raging, you get plenty of push-pull dynamics, some incredible playing and riffing."
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Right wing loyalists
Their organized denial
No thoughts come to mind
Our future is bright
Night’s clouds lit by molten pools
Above reactor walls
Leaders in pursuit
Not after lofty visions
But the bottom line
The main act were the Sex Pistols, a live show at Finsbury Park in London on June 23, 1996. This recording is soundboard quality off their Filthy Lucre Live CD.
March 18: 100 Club, London. After approximately 5 years of rumours about a reunion (and an article in the French press alleging John Lydon, Steve Jones and Paul Cook played Sex Pistols songs together in 1994 in Hollywood.) the original members of the Sex Pistols hold a press conference to announce officially that the band has reformed and will go on tour this year. The event is filmed and parts are shown on TV channels worldwide. The band is interviewed by MTV journalist Tobi Amies and a photo session also takes place.
Finsbury Park, London, 23rd June 1996. The homecoming. The Filthy Lucre Tour had begun. In just one performance, the band would be seen by more people than in their entire previous career, 30,000 fans. The size of the concert had drawn predictable criticism when announced, "Does this mean you're a stadium band?" asked one. "Finsbury Park is not a stadium. It's a field." mocked John Rotten.
The stage disappeared behind a huge paper curtain, a collage of tabloid headlines circa the "Bill Grundy Incident".
The crowd became restless & anxious, a mixture of nervous excitement & disbelief. The PA then pumped out a 70's pop song, then another,& another. Abba, Bay City Rollers, you name it. Unrest dissolved into laughter as punks-a-plenty joined in a communal sing-song. Ah, I thought. Brilliant! It's a reminder of how awful the music scene was pre-Pistols. A recreation of the conditions that resulted in the Pistols coming into being. Was I alone in thinking this? I looked around. Punk Rockers were singing "Dancing Queen". Today wasn't a day to theorize, it was a day to savour. To be there.
England football stars, Stuart Pearce & Gareth Southgate appeared on stage. "Who said there were no more heroes?" mumbled Pearce, "Ladies & Gentlemen....the Sex Pistols."
The group burst through the paper curtain to rapturous applause."Are you ready?" enquired Johnny. We had to be. The group launched into a terrifying "Bodies". A whole damn field went crazy. 30,000 people spanning more than 2 generations, punks, straights, hell! - a mobile phone could be seen held aloft! - all singing, all committing a breach of the peace on a massive scale. The crowd surged, people fell, they ran, they tried to run, they danced, they surged again. Hang on, ride with it & hope you come out the other side.
One song in & a great sense of relief could be felt. They were good, very good. My god, they're still vital. Johnny Rotten sensed this too. "Any journalists out there?" he taunted, proud of his band's opening salvo. Steve Jones simply asked the audience to give journalists "A good hiding". Keep it basic Steve.
They looked the part as well. Johnny Rotten, determined not to disappoint, had a new hair-do on show. Easy to copy. Shave sides, dye green, spike a la Bart Simpson. A check suit completed the ensemble. Steve Jones, guitar, L.A. rock ligger, bleached hair & leopardskin lame trousers. Paul Cook, reliable, steady behind his Union Jack drum kit. Glen Matlock, bass, appearing not to have aged during the 19 intervening years between his Pistols duties, casual in jeans & T-shirt.
Two songs in & the crowd were actually enjoying the show. "Fat, 40 & back" John was in self-mocking mode. It was cabaret. The fun continued, "You fat bastard" we sang in honor of Mr. Rotten's girth. "Don't be naughty" sparred our hero. Hero? Yes, don't deny it. People were smiling, happy, at a Sex Pistols concert. Don't look for explanations, juxtapositions. Don't theorize me! Enjoy!
We've waited close on 2 decades for this moment. Right or wrong, right now, we just don't care. Sure there were no surprises. Note perfect renditions came & went. The adrenalin which had all but exploded from the crowd at the start had left us drained. "You seem a bit tired" said John, almost expressing concern. The feeling of danger had disappeared as well. The pogoing was replaced by bopping on the spot, but hey, most of us are not teenagers anymore.
The songs kept coming, "Pretty Vacant" sounding even more powerful than on record, its sing-a-long-a-bility causing a second adrenalin rush. "They only did it 'cos of shame" spat Johnny as "EMI" closed the set. The crowd caught their collective breath. No time to relax, we wanted more! We demanded more! "How can we resist that?" asked Johnny as the Pistols emerged, refreshed, ready to thrill & insult us some more. "We have an old song some of you old tossers out there might remember." "Anarchy In The U.K." & 30,000 pairs of fatigued legs went crazy. Not as crazy as before, but not far short. A tight sounding "Problems" followed & off they went. Sex Pistols fans are persistent. We called for one final look at our heroes. We got it. "No Fun", all 7 glorious minutes. It dipped, it soared, it lifted & finally dropped us. It was over.
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