Thursday, November 1, 2012


I had a pair of tickets in hand as soon as I learned that PiL had scheduled a US tour, for the shows in Los Angeles and San Diego. I would have preferred they stop in Denver, but that was not to be. Needless to say, I was psyched up for another opportunity to see them live. Plans were made well in advance: the flight to LA, hotel and the Amtrak ride between the cities.

A bonus prize was made available the night before my departure when PiL’s October 27, 2012 show in Reno was broadcast live, allowing me to begin the party a day early. Even though the quality of the audio and video was not the greatest, it was a free show and I watched the livecast from beginning to end, pretending as though I were right there in the audience.

On Saturday the 28th I flew to LA, took the Metro downtown, checked in at the hotel and saw a movie that put me on the other side of midnight. Last thing to do was smoke a cigar on the hotel fire escape. I wandered the streets of LA Saturday morning and afternoon, visiting the Museum of Contemporary Art, Little Tokyo and a bookstore on the way back to the hotel. Some really good exhibits at the MOCA, a few inspiring me to do something different and to begin a project I had been meaning to do for years.  The trick is always the follow through.

I prepared for the Sunday night show, had dinner and found myself in front of the stage at Club Nokia by 7 PM. While waiting in line the fliers posted on the walls made it clear that they would be videotaping the show as part of a PiL documentary. I was also surprised to learn that there would be no warm up band, PiL being the one and only act to perform this evening. They took the stage around 8:30 PM and the moment I was waiting for began, the show beginning with their classic “This Is Not A Love Song.” I was in heaven for the two hours from beginning to end. I’m sure Johnny noticed the Sid Vicious t-shirt I was wearing since I was standing center stage, a couple rows behind the barricade. Johnny kept on calling out to Walter to turn up the bass multiple times throughout the show, picked up by the audience as well, sending me into a frenzy.

After the show I had a late night meal at The Pantry up the block on Figueroa Street followed by a cigar on the roof of the hotel, accessed via the outdoor fire escape. I was savoring the experience of the last few hours.

The group remains as abrasive and forward-thinking as ever, whether offering new genre-bending songs or staples from its past. Billed as an evening with PiL, the latest return of Lydon and his cohorts – including late ’80s collaborators Lu Edmonds (guitars) and Bruce Smith (drums) – to the L.A. Live venue Club Nokia, where they previewed their Coachella set two years ago, found the quartet working through a two-hour, 15-song set filled with captivating moments that made you wonder why they ever stopped in the first place.
Lydon, one of the more compelling singers in rock history, was a fireball of energy and hyper-kinetic movements as the synthesizer stabs of “This Is Not a Love Song” kicked off the main set. Filled with wild gesticulating and altered pitch, Lydon’s vocals for “Deeper Water” (one of four selections from the current disc) resonated throughout the room, the overall mix perfect for this sometimes spotty sound trap.

Read it all here:

The piercing sound of John Lydon's voice is still like no other. During Public Image Ltd.'s two-hour concert at Club Nokia in Los Angeles on Sunday night, he sang with a mixture of biting antagonism and real vulnerability, filling the theater with a fiery wail and compelling new songs from the reunited post-punk originators.

Sunday's concert came near the end of the band's three-year touring journey, which included the release this year of This Is PiL, the band's first new album in two decades and a return to form, as Lydon demonstrated in L.A. "We come from chaos/ You cannot change us, " he shouted during the album's "One Drop" against sharply echoing guitar lines of Lu Edmonds. "Cannot explain us/ And that's what makes us."

Dressed in a two-toned shirt, bright orange suspenders hanging behind him, Lydon comfortably mixed his past and present, with song choices stretching back to PiL's 1978 debut, First Issue, recorded shortly after he left the Sex Pistols. The sides of his head were cropped short, leaving a blond tuft of hair on top, and earrings dangled from both sides. Between songs, he soothed his throat by lifting a liquor bottle to his mouth, taking a swig, gargling and spitting it out.

The new album's "Reggie Song" shook from searing guitar with an Arabic flavor as Lydon sang, his hand raised. He grunted his words through a stretched-out "Bags" (from 1986's generically titled Album) over a deep bass rumble with slices of guitar. When a fan slurred back a lyric between songs, Lydon turned with a wicked grin. "With a voice like that, that why I'm up here and you're down there."

The concert was filmed as part of an ongoing documentary project on the band, which Lydon unexpectedly reconvened in 2009 after a long hibernation with the lineup of Edmonds, drummer Bruce Smith and bassist Scott Firth (who also operates the laptop). It was a homecoming for Lydon, who has lived in Los Angeles and Malibu since the Eighties, and he teased locals for cheering not quite loudly enough: "Laid back as usual? That's OK, la la. I live in la la."

Lydon has spent many of the last 20 years working on television, and reunited first with the Sex Pistols in 1996, but he has been unwilling or unable to create new songs with the groundbreaking punk act. His history with PiL is much longer, and it was the outfit in which he expanded and experimented with his voice. The PiL reunion inspired him to write again, and he is already making plans for another album with them

Read more:

I went to Club Nokia to see a fucking legend; Johnny Rotten. John Lydon hasn’t been Johnny Rotten for a very long time, but there were glimpses of that surly politically incorrect rude son of a bitch that fronted a band that altered the course of musical history on Sunday night forever, when the Sex Pistols exploded onto the scene in the late 70’s and became the pioneers of Punk Rock.

Although the Pistols were gone within 3 years of their formation, they changed the world. Some would say for the better, and some would say for the worse. The Sex Pistols were a drunken, heroin influenced train wreck. Their front man couldn’t carry a tune, and didn’t care to try, their Bass Player, well he wasn’t really a Bass Player at all, offed himself on heroin and the band was dead and gone by 1978. But make no mistake, they were one of the single biggest influences on music and culture of the past 40 years. That, to me, was worth a trip to see Johnny and PIL on Sunday Night.

Read it here:

Stone balcony ledge
Busy ants crawl to and fro
The rim of their world

Ancient scrub cloaked rock
Mountains that rose from the sea
Watch the city grow

Miles of graffiti
Seen through trains scratched windows
Broken people sit

Police sirines wail
Refuge in the buildings shadow
Cool oasis of green

Preach with conviction
Their ignorance and hatred
In the name of God

Download the mp3 show here:!download|769p6|1220631036|MP3%20Los%20Angeles_%20Club%20Nokia%20Ocxtober%2028_%202012%20320%20kbps.rar|296686|0|0

Download the flac show here, parts one and two:!download|614p12|2455751314|FLAC%20Part%201%20Los%20Angeles_%20Club%20Nokia%20Ocxtober%2028_%202012.rar|368829|0|0

1 comment:

Pil Head said...

Excellent work- what a great write up and some excellent photos. I'll be posting this recording on my blog, using your links, with full credit to yourself of course. I look forward to hearing the San Diego- Thanks for a great share of a great gig