Public Image Ltd
Wulfrun Hall, Wolverhampton, UK, 3/8/12
and
Empress Ballroom, Blackpool, UK, 4/8/12
Review and Exclusive Pictures By: ROTTEN
A new album, "This Is PIL" , brings Public Image Ltd back out on tour, and the incomparable John Lydon back to the microphone. What would PIL now be like?, How would the new material go down in front of a live audience now the full album is out? Well, it was an hour or so train ride from my home to Wolverhampton for the PIL show to find out, and I couldn't wait.

After doing the Merchandise stall and 5 Beers, it was a hour before show time and time to get to a nice spot in front of the man himself. By the time the band amble on stage my feet are killing me, but with a quick "Hello, This Is PIL" from John and we were off into "This Is Not A Love Song".....a song I was never really fond of, but it is worth noting the older PIL songs are re-workings, and this new version is the dogs bollocks. Pausing only to mention guitarist LU EDMONDS' eye surgery the previous day, we were then into the first of the new songs, DEEPER WATER, premiered earlier in the year in a few gigs pre - album release. It was during this song Lydon noticed me singing along and gave the first of many nods and smiles in my direction and at me (i think he could see how much i was enjoying the show!). Next up was "Albatross", from the Metal Box album of 1979, my second favorite of the old PIL songs, and here Scott Firth's Bass Guitar rumble was sublime, washing over us like a heatwave, and the three thousand people in this small hall just lapping it up. John quickly had a word with Rambo - his manager and security man who exited backstage for a few minutes as did John (he had succumbed to Diarrhea a few days before and was still feeling it), but was soon back for the "Reggie Song" from the new album, a classic cut, which I really love in a live situation, and John's voice shows its on top form.
A Double stab from the 9 album of 1989 is next, with "Disappointed" and "Warrior", the former sounding great again, with great driving Bass, Bruce Smith giving the drums some hell, and even more great guitar from Lu Edmunds...."Warrior" got people dancing a little, but this wasn't a dancing crowd just yet - that came later. I noticed between songs, John was being very quiet, and even after the applause had died down, only a few voices in the crowd being heard, people were either mesmerized or very bored. the next track,"Religion" woke everyone up but there were no calls for "more bass" from Lydon tonight, although it was being stretched out to over 10 minutes of Improvisation by the band. A heart stopping rendition of the classic "Death Disco" was up next, I carefully watched John as he sang, spellbinding, you could see the hurt in his face as he remembered his Mother, Father and Ariana as he sang. "Flowers Of Romance" next was a weak spot, a great song, but placed near the end of a 90 minute main set made you feel like you had been standing there for ages and now it was dragging a bit. "Lollipop Opera" brought things back up and was thankfully shortened from its 10 minute album setting. A rousing medley of Bags and Chant closed the first 90 minutes, as the band ran off stage for Lydon's obligatory cigarette break.

Coming back on 7 minutes later, John tells us he needed a cigarette break and to ignore laws telling us not to smoke in Public places, and the band launch into "Out Of The Woods" from the new album, not a high point for me. "One Drop" was next and this got people going a bit, being one of the few upbeat songs tonight, followed by a rousing "Rise' and ending with the only song we saw any dancing for, "Open Up", during which a shaved headed moron pushed net to me, threw his Hoodie at John and proceeded to 'dance' like an drugged up raver, flinging his elbows around and catching my face twice with them!.....Then PIL were gone. 2 Hours on stage in all, a Great show, Great sound, good set.

After getting a Very Expensive cab home (I had spent over 150 ($275 ish) in one night), I knew I had access to the show at Rebellion Festival in Blackpool the next night, but would only go for PIL's spot. I got a last minute lift from a friend and off I went. I knew Rebellion would not be the right show for PIL, and I was right. 20 Minutes into the set, people were leaving the Empress Ballroom to go see other bands, and I can see why.....This was a Punk festival, and PIL are no longer anything related to Punk. People who came to Rebellion for their 3 chord Punk or the British First wave have lots of bands they can get it from, and that sadly isn't PIL. I spotted the gorgeous Viv Albertine of The Slits watching the show, amongst others, but the hall steadily got emptier and emptier even though the band were on the same form as the previous evening. Great band, wrong festival. There isn't anything much more Lydon can do with the PIL structure now, to change it again would be a backwards step, and I am unsure of where it will go in the future, but I can't wait to find out. A long drive home put an end to a Weekend of PIL.....Expensive, but so worth it!.