Talk about making the best of a potentially bad situation. With a fresh U.S. tour that was plagued with glitches before it even hit our shores, Public Image Ltd. has been able rise above immigration, scheduling and venue problems, and continue with their 2012 jaunt in support of fine new 2012 album, This is PiL. Despite some unforeseeable and unfortunate threats of cancellation, the band (along with some deft and speedy work from local promoters) was able to re-locate their Saturday night Cuban Club appearance at the eleventh hour to Ybor City's Orpheum nightclub. The smaller venue proved to be a cozier and more tightly-packed affair, but the band more than made up for the confusion and chaos involved by delivering an amazing, head-splitting, two-hour bonanza of offbeat, bass-heavy dub rock that filled every crevice of the club with sonic delight. [Text by Gabe, photos by Brian.]
Due to previously-scheduled events later in the evening, the show commenced unusually early. Lead singer and frontman extraordinaire John Lydon along with his three-piece band marched onstage a scant few minutes after 8 p.m. and quickly launched into the familiar pounding of "This Is Not A Love Song" before beginning their sonic assault. Lydon, arguably the greatest and most imitated leader of any of the original late 1970's UK punk bands, was in typical form: grimacing, emoting, sneering, spouting, spitting, shouting...oh, and singing his ass off in particularly strong and forceful fashion.
In an over-sized black-and-white shirt, track pants and sneakers, Lydon hardly resembled the venomous, vitriolic Sex Pistol focal point of yore; while his look and style have changed, his demeanor and panache have not. Mixing in classic, deep catalog PiL material ("Albatross") with more familiar college rock staples ("Disappointed," "Warrior") suited the appreciative crowd just fine. The band's first return to our hometown since the early 1990's was fiercely welcomed judging by the steady roar erupting from the crowd between each number. The reaction elicited a response from the sometimes stoic Lydon: "You people are nice ... and fucking loud. It IS appreciated" he muttered in a moment of quiet amazement.
Lydon's dance moves sometime resembled a spastic robot out of control but were wildly entertaining nonetheless. Backed by the current dynamic three-piece incarnation of PiL, Lydon was able to cleverly shift gears and change directions in an instant, easing his way through the complexity of something like "U.S.L.S 1" (a song about our president's airplane) while relying on the steadfast musicians with whom he shared the stage. Bassist Scott Firth carried each of the night's selections with deep, commanding, booming force that felt like it might demolish the clubs walls. Guitarist Lu Edmonds utilized a series of unusual stringed instruments (one resembling a "mandolin on steroids" as a friend described it) that cleverly and uniquely captured every intricacy of the performance.
And, as a master showman who has no doubt dealt with every possible type of heckling asshole throughout his illustrious career, Lydon was quick to combat a particularly annoying patron who chose to badger him. "Kind words," Lydon smugly sneered in addressing the loudmouth before announcing "...but, either way, I have your money!" he smiled. Well played, Mr. Lydon.
The two-hour performance was capped by a spectacular three-song encore that featured "Rise," PiL's well-known 1986 anthem. The song's familiar chanting chorus ("Anger is an energy!") became a fierce audience sing-along that seemed to please Lydon immensely and enthrall the entire sweaty, sticky crowd.
With a strong new album to their credit and solid performances like Saturday night's still up their collective sleeves, we can hold out hope that Lydon and company will be flaunting their public image more frequently, and make more regular visits to the U.S. — and especially to our corner of the world.
This is Not A Love Song
Out of the Woods
Tyler- I can't believe how talented of a writer you are. This article was beautifully…
Great interview! Give the interviewer a full time job! He's great!
The DJ was actually The Castle's very own DJ Tom Gold :)
Fabulous review Gabe! Too bad I missed it.