Image Limited - Manchester Apollo, Thursday, November 10th 1983
was a huge event for a Public Image Limited and John Lydon fan. PIL's output and
touring had always been sporadic and at last we had a full scale national tour.
I'd bought my ticket within an hour of going on sale, to guarantee a place down
the front. Back in those days, the venue only removed the first 8 or so rows,
so you had to be quick if you weren't going to be condemned to the seats and the
over enthusiastic bouncers who made sure you stayed there.
opening strains of Public Image were greeted with a loud cheer. The crowd
had had a taster of the new PIL lineup with a recent appearance on "The Tube"
TV show. Unfairly labeled "cabaret PIL" by some, this label ignored
the fact that they delivered a very rocky sound, suiting much early PIL material.
the poxy sound, we've had problems with arseholes on the PA," interjected
John. It sounded fine to us down at the front. Annalisa was next, and was
far more pounding than I expected. "Get up off your fucking arses,"
John barked, before dovetailing neatly into the lyric "go crawl, like rabid
funk of Solitaire confused some spikey tops. It also gave John the opportunity
to cadge a smoke from the crowd. Chant picked up the pace. It was a rush
to hear the driving onslaught from one of the less obvious, yet climatic, tracks
from Metal Box.
was always going to be a highlight, and began hauntingly. With the stage lights
down, John held a circular neon light above his head during the cathedral music
build-up. It was at this moment that I caught a direct stare from "those
eyes" - frightening! Religion, along with the other songs from the
album Public Image performed tonight, were faithfully realised by the group
who were able to display their rock strengths.
we go home now?" asked John. "No" chorused the audience. This seemed
to buoy John mid-way through the set. The Tube performance of Flowers Of Romance
had sounded unlike the single, so I was shocked at how, tonight, the song sounded
so similar to the sparse and atmospheric original. The fact that it was twice
as long was also a bonus and more satisfying as a result.
angry Low Life upped the tempo once more and had the punks in a lather
down the front, prompting John to hold the microphone out to one particularly
did indeed bring back memories, those of departed bass player, Jah Wobble. The
bass line was accurately re-created by Louie Bernardi, although it was Martin
Atkin's pounding drums that provided the backbone. "C'mon you arseholes,"
John spat at those still rooted in their seats.
found a music journalist this evening?" he enquired before Anarchy In
The UK kicked in, bringing a spontaneous response of mayhem down the front,
and a huge cheer from throughout the packed theatre. Sure, Joe Guida was not Steve
Jones, and the keyboards did sound a bit bizarre, but what the hell
keyboard was played so fast you would swear it was Jerry Lee Lewis, not Arthur
Stead, banging the ivories! It is also important to realise that this was the
first time 99% of the audience had heard John perform this song - a feat none
of us thought we would ever witness. It was a high for all of us, and ended the
carried on this high, with PIL's contemporary hit, This Is Not A Love Song.
Surely one of the most original songs of the 1980s? The powerful performance was
interjected with some Lydon humour, "This is the boring part about the old
train leaving for the new world, etc. etc." With barely enough time to draw
breath, a ferocious Attack closed the show. It was an exhausting end. John
continued to enjoy his crowd baiting during the song, "Is this the best Manchester
can do?" while screaming, "Destroy, wipe out
" There were
few doubters; it felt like he could do just that, as a loud bang and a flash echoed
through the venue. PIL pyrotechnics! A fitting, surprise ending to an adrenaline
charged show. A content and shell-shocked crowd departed.
had been a long wait. To finally see Public Image Limited and John in action was
an incredible moment, and left me buzzing for days. I was lucky to see further
great PIL shows in subsequent years, but none was to leave such an impression
as this first encounter on November 10th 1983.
by Phil Singleton
Pictured: Original gig ticket & programme, both
of which survived the event!