Public Image Limited, ABC, gig review: John Lydon's vocals still as sharp as a can opener

Public Image Limited are a thrillingly uncompromising live proposition

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The Independent Culture

“Normally Glasgow can be a bit louder than this,” squawked John Lydon, apparently taking umbrage at the fact people hadn’t been dancing for a couple of songs. “Is it because you’re all so packed in? Or is it because I’m so fuckin’ ‘andsome?” It was a brief outing for the lairy, childishly impudent Lydon of ‘Johnny Rotten’ and reality show loose cannon fame.

Within the context of the music, the former Sex Pistols singer’s ‘other’ band Public Image Limited are a darker and more sophisticated proposition, and doubtless the audience – squeezed in, as Lydon correctly noted – were pausing to enjoy music which deserves attention and taking a breather towards the end of a packed two-hour set.

Reformed in 2009 and having recently released What the World Needs Now…, their tenth album and second since the comeback, PIL remain a thrillingly uncompromising live proposition. Joined by guitarist Lu Edmonds and drummer Bruce Smith, both briefly members in the late 1980s, and new bassist Scott Firth, their brand of menacing post-punk sounds suitably serrated on self-confessed old chestnuts like ‘This is Not a Love Song’, ‘Death Disco’ and ‘Public Image Limited’, and a smattering of new songs like the opener ‘Double Trouble’. At the heart of it all is Lydon’s vocal, as sharp and efficient as a can opener, still a spine-shivering delight to hear performing live.

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