As the last major act of the Rebellion Festival
weekend, PiL had the arduous task of entertaining an exhausted and
alcohol ravaged crowd at 11.20pm on a Sunday night, and
dragging the last vestiges of life out of them.
Due to my own extreme fatigue, I made for the balcony 90 minutes before
they were due on, in order to bag a front row seat. Yes, I had to
endure Slaughter & the Dogs, but I achieved my aim, and by the time
John Lydon and the boys took to the stage in the Empress Ballroom, I
knew it had been worth it.
Earlier in the day John had "been in conversation with Barry Cain" in
the Opera House. It had been packed out with over 2000 people - a
star struck audience all there to see the king of punk. Full
marks to Barry for his warmth and self-depreciating humour along with
his ability to let John take over at the right moments. The pair were
in tune, bouncing back and forth off each other as John entertained the
throng with his mixture of hilarious, compassionate, and forthright
views. It had been a triumph and may have prompted some non-PiL fans to
attend the evening gig. What would they make of it?
From my vantage point I was able to engage in some serious crowd
observation. Three things stood out. Firstly, PiL had pulled possibly
the biggest crowd of the weekend. Secondly, the punters stayed for the
duration. Thirdly, they danced.
This was still the PiL 40th anniversary celebration so the set was
similar to the rest of the tour with some minor changes to accommodate
the time slot. John began by giving Jeremy Corbyn some stick for the
anti-semitism row within the Labour Party. Good to see an artist with
the balls to buck the current trend of blind Corbyn worship that's rife
amongst the musician community. Some welcome checks and balances by
As for the music, the opening trio of Warrior, Memories, and The Body
proved as captivating to the Rebellion "punk rock" crowd as it had to
the more regular PiL audience. It was proving impressive - the mutual
appreciation between those on stage and those out front was clear from
early on. By the time the 2018 take on Death Disco was reverberating
around the ballroom, we were now witness to a "PiL" crowd, including a
sizeable chunk of brand new fans picked up on the day. It got a little
bonkers during the encore of Public Image, and remained dance intensive
throughout Open Up. Shoom was new to many but it maintained PiL's hold
over the crowd - there could be no doubt that John and PiL remain
cutting edge, derivative and definitely outside the system.
For those that had caught their first glimpse of John at the Opera
House earlier in the day, the show tonight was proof positive that John
Lydon does more than merely talk the talk. He also upholds his end of
the bargain on stage.
There was no dissent in the Empress Ballroom tonight. It was not hard
to see why - John remains 100% the real deal. Pulling in
close to 3000 people late on a Sunday night, and keeping them there,
takes something special. Very special.
Review & Photos by Phil
Wrexham 24 June
The Sex Pistols ©2018 Phil Singleton / www.sex-pistols.net
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