Punk not dead ten years later; PiL's Lydon brash as ever
PUBLIC IMAGE, LTD.
With Flesh for Lulu.
At the Orpheum Theatre,
Saturday, October 7.
By ALEX SOLIS
"D 'YA WANNA SEE ME titties?" yelled John Lydon to the crowd, which responded with a loud roar. Lydon then eloquently said: "Only if you show me yours first." Some people in the crowd actually did, and Lydon seemed more than happy to oblige them. This, among much crotch handling, were just a few of the obscene antics that Lydon performed on stage this last Saturday. But who's complaining? You don't go to a concert of a group led by an ex-Sex Pistol and proclaimed father of punk and expect a family concert. The concert was loud. It was wickedly fun. It was very satisfying rock.
The night was loud right from the beginning when the opening act, Flesh for Lulu, hit the stage. Their performance was not ideal, but it was powerful. Some of their songs tended to be a bit monotonous at times; all loud screeching guitars with little sense of melody. Although the intimate Orpheum Theatre wasn't yet full at the time, they managed to get the scattered crowds dancing and singing along to some of their songs. The most notable performance was that of "I want you now." Another standout was the performance of their new single "Decline and Fall." When their set ended the lead singer went out saying, "Goodbye Boston. We'll see you again soon," but I won't hold my breath.
After a short intermission PIL, dressed in fluorescent clothes, entered the stage to the roar of the then full Orpheum. John Lydon greeted the crowd with a simple "Hello Boston" followed by some expletives. The crowd loved it. The band began the set with an excellent rendition of their latest single, "Warrior." They then moved on to "Happy?" which had the crowd cheering and dancing merrily along. The band went on to play most of their last album, 9, and some vintage Sex Pistols music.
The most brilliant performance was of, as Lydon quaintly put it "an oldie but goldie," "Rise." The crowd danced and sang and let itself be manipulated by Lydon who periodically screamed: "Are you
f---ing dead? Can't you bloody sing?" The crowd was having a great time.
The band then moved on to an excellent rendition of "Disappointed" which left the crowd hungry for more, and Lydon knew it. As he left the stage he teased the crowd, "Now, who are we kidding? We know that we are going to come back out. But we'll let you clap on for about 10 minutes," and so they did. The band appeared on stage again for two encores.
Saturday's show was thoroughly satisfying. Critics say that Lydon has sold out, moved out of his punk roots and into mainstream pop. They point out his involvement with former New Order (and occasionally Madonna) producer Stephen Hague. Saturday's show indicated that they were utterly wrong. If anything Lydon has expanded his musical horizons. The music is much more melodic but it still is strong, loud and innovative. In addition he seems much more confident with his music. Some credit this to his recent marriage but whatever the reason it is a welcome improvement. When Lydon sang: "Is everybody h-h-ha-ha-happy?" the message from the crowd was clearly "Yes!" John Lydon, punk (or whatever you may call it) on!