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REVIEWS Atlantic City '03

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Atlantic City NJ - Trump Marina Casino / Grand Cayman Ballroom: 23rd August 2003

Set List: Bodies / Seventeen / New York / No Feelings / God Save The Queen / Liar / Belsen Was A Gas / No Fun / Submission / Holidays In The Sun / Pretty Vacant / E.M.I. Encore: Anarchy In The U.K. / Problems.

The Sex Pistols 'Shock and Awe' Atlantic City
Review by Tim Donnelly

The premise of the Sex Pistols bringing their "nostalgia act" to a casino ballroom Saturday night was an obvious cause for cynicism. The Pistols are unabashed about their motives, which are: money and instigation. However, all doubts of a sham were removed even before the first chord was struck. Johnny Rotten (nee Lydon) smugly announced from the wings " For those about to die, we salute you". As the band launched in their opening salvo, Bodies, Rotten was met with projectiles of every kind. Full cups of beer, ice, and yes, spit were launched at him from all directions. He stood headstrong into the barrage, defiant as he was in the summer of '77.

Rotten and his original band mates, guitarist Steve Jones, bassist Glen Matlock and drummer Paul Cook were not bogged down by neither lack of rehearsal time or middle age, as they whipped and prodded their way through Seventeen and New York. Rotten did look ludicrous standing under an opulent chandelier in the Grand Cayman Ballroom of the Trump Marina. He made light of it by welcoming the near sell out crowd to "Donald's Dump". The set was bare, with the exception of a backdrop festooned with the various crests of the British monarchy.

The politics of the evening centered on the U.S.-British involvement in Iraq. The Pistols re-worked their song, Belsen Was a Gas into Baghdad Was A Gas. Rotten cheekily introduced the tune as their "new hit single" and drummer Paul Cook led the charge like a Special Ops soldier, providing the necessary force for the improvisation. Rotten berated President Bush throughout the evening, even suggesting that President Bush and Saddam Hussein were "two idiots for the price of one". They also ripped through the timeless God Save The Queen, and emphasized the tagline "No future for you", to the gambling throngs outside the ballroom.

The crowd, composed of gutter punks, bikers, surfers, and middle- aged rockers with children in tow, stood in gleeful shock as Rotten simulated masturbation with his microphone and rubbed his nipples during No Feelings. These actions were more or less expected, and an absence of them would have been an abomination to their legacy. Complaining of a head cold throughout the evening, Rotten proceeded to blow his nose on the crowd at various junctures much to their delight. Rotten sneered, "You'd think we'd made enough money by now to have someone blow my nose for me".

Rotten, prowling the stage like a howler monkey on a rampage was hit in the face with a full sized adult beverage during a cover of Iggy Pop and The Stooges classic, No Fun. He lambasted the offender without missing a beat, cursing at him, spitting on him and demanding that he be removed from the building. The guilty party was ejected, albeit with a huge smile on his face. He seemed justifiably honored to be verbally assaulted and smacked in the face with sputum by the grandfather of punk rock. Rotten did show his appreciation to the Garden State by proclaiming it a better crowd than New York, and that "Jersey is not so bad, after all"

Guitarist Steve Jones manifested his belligerence into superb playing on Holidays In The Sun. Jones along with bassist Glen Matlock provided the shout and response choruses that have become a staple to the genre. After the end of "Pretty Vacant", Rotten chided the crowd even more, asking them, "Which is it? Are you pretty? Or, are you vacant?" Even though the band is without currently a record label, they still chastised the music industry with their song E.M.I. Rotten then abruptly stopped the music and announced, "We are going home now. You look too young. It's past your bedtime." With that, Rotten held up a white big book entitled "The Book of War" and we walked off stage.

From backstage, Rotten insulted the audience into an encore. After his expletive laced diatribe, the band returned for raucous versions of Anarchy In The U.K and Problems. Rotten riffed the lyrics in a stream of consciousness manner, as Matlock and Jones veered away from their original opus, eschewing its rigidity in favor of improvisation.

It's dumbfounding that the Sex Pistols have only released one proper album in twenty- five years, and it's impressive that they still get new car mileage out of the material. The evening was filthy and furious, without a tinge of disappointment or deception in the air.

Review by Eliot Wien

After attending Jones Beach Theatre on Thursday, August 21, 2003, I was very curious as to what the Atlantic City show would be like in a Casino Hotel. My friends and I drove from New York City to Atlantic City, New Jersey. The drive is approximately 3 hours. When we got there, we found out that they were going to play in a Ballroom. It reminded me of the early tours of the late 70's in Texas. We knew this was going to be an intimate evening of the Sex Pistols. No seats. Standing only! The whole tour should have been in places like this. In all my years of seeing the Sex Pistols, last night's performance was the best one ever. It was even better than The Crystal Palace show that I flew to England to see!

Behind the Sex Pistols hung the tapestry of flags that was made specifically for the Jubilee performance in England. They didn't have this at Jones Beach. I remembered it from last year's Crystal Palace show. The set was pretty much the same as the night before at Jones Beach Theatre, except that they didn't perform Did You No Wrong. The sound was great, and the energy of the crowd and the band was incredible. John's comments were "You New Jersey people are better than the New York crowd." He also said that he would like to thank Donald Dump for having them play at Trump Marina. John's voice seemed to be bothering him. When he performed Problems, it looked like he was choking on stage. He even looked at Steve for help. He started drinking Gatorade and other liquids, and seemed like he caught his breath again. The band never sounded this good. If they play like this for the rest of the tour, everyone will be happy and amazed!

Review by Tom G

The Sex Pistols in as Johnny put it, Donald "Dump's" casino in Atlantic City, NJ , was nothing short of AMAZING to this long time fan, who first purchased "God Save the Queen" as an import single 27 years ago. The Dropkick Murphys were THE PERFECT opener, though the sound system left a bit to be desired.

The Pistols set was the same as the previous shows, which highlighted for me early with the 1-2 punch of 17 & New York. I personally could do without No Fun, a good song but not one of my favs. Johnny admitted his voice was in bad shape, that just gave us the opportunity to sing LOUDER. It was especially noticeable during the finale of Problems, but he was able to hock a few good luggies, take a drink & carry on. Johnny introduced their new hit single as Baghdad Was A Gas, took a few swipes at Bush & Blair and we all cheered. Actually, he could have hailed Satan and we would have cheered. Steve & Paul played very good steady Rock 'N' Roll, nuthin' fancy, the way I like it. Glen looked amazing, & has probably aged the best of the four.

Was it worth a 27 year wait for me? ABSOLUTELY. Just hope I don't have to wait another 27 for an encore.

Review by Gordon Meehan

What can I say, but a great show!!! Highly recommended!! I was up front at the barricades. Rotten was in rare form, and seemed to really enjoy himself. Paul, Steve and Glen played great, strong and steady. There must have been about 1,000 people, standing only, no seats (hate those seat gigs!) The crowd was in a great mood, and everyone was just ecstatic to be there. There was just such a buzz of enthusiasm. Air quality in LA must be worse than here, lots of phlegm and luggies from Johnny. I loved the part when he dropped a smoke on the carpet and security ran to stomp it out. The Trump goon squad was everywhere, and quite eager to squash out any fearful amount of enthusiasm. Rotten made some great comments, 'Hitler was a Queer!!' at the end of one of the songs, and bashed Bush. The Pistols had a lot of energy and put on a great show. Highly recommended. I wouldn't say no to new material, or even an album??? GOD SAVE THE SEX PISTOLS!!!!

©2003 Phil Singleton / www.sex-pistols.net
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