|Public Image Limited - Cardiff Coal Exchange - 2nd June 2011|
|Written by David Whistance|
|Thursday, 09 June 2011 05:00|
It is nearly twelve months since I finally got to witness the PiL experience live, when after a seemingly never ending wait I finally broke my duck at Bristol's O2 Academy one sunny night back in July 2010. That night was a phenomenal affair, living up to all my wildest expectations, so when it was announced that Johnny Lydon and the boys would be playing the far more intimate venue that is/was Cardiff's Millennium Music Hall, I paused briefly wondering to myself whether it could live up to last year's gig? That thought quickly passed through my brain faster than a Tory MP being chased by a pretty policeman as I eagerly sat ordering tickets like a man possessed.
After all how could I possibly miss this legendary band at such an intimate venue, how could I? Well sadly at the eleventh hour I discovered the venue was being switched due to logistical reasons at the Millennium Music Hall, but thankfully it was being switched to one of my favourite venues in the capital, The Coal Exchange down in Cardiff Bay.
Like last year's gig there was no support slot tonight which is a shame really as there is so much talent out there waiting to be discovered right now, but to be honest the ever increasing crowd was only here to see one band anyway and as the venue becomes increasingly fuller I quickly deduce that any available air in my vicinity is being scented by sweat and stale farts, which can mean only one thing really, there is punk legend in the house!!!!
As the band take to the stage and tear straight into 'Public Image' any previous reservations I have about the band not being as good as last year quickly disappear. You see, what I love about John Lydon is that he could have just taken the cash and ran tonight, after all he has always been incredibly vocal about the cash incentive concerning the various Sex Pistols reunions, but as he has stated in the past "Sex Pistols are from the head, PIL is from the heart" and that is why his band take the stage and don't simply play an identical set list to last year's gig, which so many other bands on the comeback trail appear to do these days.
But being PiL they not only change the set list but also the song structure, 'Religion' for example was mind-blowing at last year's Bristol gig yet rather than duplicate the performance here the band have transformed the number completely whilst still making it sound as equally wonderful. How they do it? You'll have to ask Lydon and Co, and during the evening the capacity crowd are treated to all the PiL classics given the similar musical rogering, 'Poptones', 'Flowers Of Romance' and a crowd-pleasing performance of last year's opening number 'This Is Not A Love Song' all making the sweat soaked horde very vocal indeed.
John Lydon has to be applauded for putting together such a fine array of musicians in this version of PiL, former Damned guitarist Lu Edmonds (who now bares such an uncanny resemblance to Ron Moody's portrayal of Fagan that I was half expecting him to burst into a few lines of 'You've Got To Pick A Pocket Or Two') is an exceptional guitarist who keeps you transfixed throughout proceedings. Along with the equally impressive rhythm section courtesy of Bruce Smith and Scott Firth, in fact during tonight's performance the band are tighter than Gene Simmons' purse strings. And I for one just hope Johnny and the lads can get to a studio soon and record a new PiL album...It's been far too long guys!
Although the band are pretty damn impressive there is only one man this audience has come to see tonight and that is the possessed ringmaster himself Mr John Lydon, and he certainly doesn't disappoint, conducting in a variety of banter with the crowd and even throwing in a reference to Swansea's victory at Wembley that is met with the expected tirade of boos, but he as he does it all with a huge grin on his face the irony is perfectly understood, and riots averted. Then when the great man is accused of selling out he simply replies "I did Anarchy first, where were you?"
I have to admit that there were a couple of numbers mid set that I wasn't really that aware of although it didn't detract from my enjoyment, but finding myself at the adjoining bar trying to escape the intense heat in the venue, I bumped into someone who stated that he didn't think the band were possibly as good as they had been last year in Bristol, my reply being that when you have raised the bar as high as they did last year it can be pretty hard to compete, but you know what, witnessing the smiles on the various people staggering out of the venue following a sweltering encore of 'Rise' and Leftfield/Lydon's 'Open Up' I think they would all heartily disagree with us.
Anyway I think I'll simply leave you with a quote from a friend I attended the gig with; "If I'm going to spend £30, then I could not think of a better way to spend it..."
Which I guess makes the final score PiL 1 - Uber Rock 0 (AET)