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Public Image Limited - Copper Rooms, Coventry 25 May 2016

PiL at The Copper Rooms

The first night of the UK leg of the 2016 tour. Fitting it was at the The Copper Rooms, Coventry, the site of last year's cancelled show due to John's throat infection. John apologised for his previous absence as PiL began an astonishing 1 hour 45 minute show.

Born again by the success of What The World Needs Now, PiL performed seven songs from the album, kicking off with the mighty pairing of Double Trouble & Know You. This Is Not A Love Song followed, reinvented in its modern day PiL guise. When I say modern day, I mean current tour; 21st Century PiL manage to stretch their repertoire in new directions every time they hit the road. It's seemingly impossible to distinguish the various eras on show tonight, all songs attack as a cohesive whole.

Betty Page and Deeper Water dig up the ground in front of you as John flexes his vocals with a variety of sounds: John's voice is an instrument in itself. Corporate is an angry song and John barks "murderer" like he means it, which he does. Death Disco underwent a transformation, Lu Edmond's Swanlake guitar was crisp, metallic and a touch spooky, but there was so much going on in this 2016 version I need to hear it again, and again. My favourite song from What The World Needs Now, The One, breezed past in it's carefree Glam Rock vibe. Of course, on the surface if sounds carefree, but beneath lies the struggle of the one, the loner.

The unity of sound across the entire PiL catalogue was brought into focus by the many segues with songs melding seamlessly into the next. This was taken even further with my highlight of the evening, a medley of sorts with excerpts from Bad Life & Tie Me To The Length Of That morphing into The Body. Warrior then completed the trip back to 80s PiL. Bruce Smith's drumming was always important during the original recordings of these later two classics and remains pivotal today.

Although placed towards the end of the set, Religion is the centre piece. It's become the definitive PiL song, the embodiment of the group itself. Dangerous, edgy & forever relevant, sonically & lyrically. And flexible. There was even a break in the song as John announced we would be treated to a disco version, while asking if the University crowd could count up to 3, all good humoured as the song built up once more with Scott Firth's bone shaking bass getting louder & louder. After this intensity, Rise was the perfect audience sing-along to bring the set to a close. 

An encore onslaught of a ferocious I'm Not Satisfied, a techno bombardment in Open Up & a brutally direct Shoom - the final track on the latest LP - illustrated why PiL are still outsiders, in a category all of their own. A category of their own making. A category called Public Image Ltd. You think you've seen PiL, you haven't. You never will. They are never the same twice.

Review by Phil Singleton
Picture by Jason Insley

Buckley 26th September 2015 >

God Save The Sex Pistols ©2016 Phil Singleton /
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God Save the Sex Pistols

God Save The Sex Pistols ©Phil Singleton /