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PiL – Live in San Francisco

pil-live27.11.15 – THE CHAPEL, SAN FRANCISCO

The third to last US show of Public Image Limited’s tour following the release of their What the World Needs Now album brought the band to San Francisco. The Chapel is an intimate venue and John Lydon’s first comment of the night was “Up close and personal!” before he launched into Double Trouble which also opens the new album. The gig was sold out and an appreciative crowd danced along to a set that spanned the PiL library from the first single Public Image through to Betty Page and What the World Needs Now from the latest release.

Lydon, clad in all black, is a strong live performer and genuinely seem to enjoy himself and, with the band at the top of the game with an audience singing every word when asked by the lead singer. For me, the superb rhythm section which is at the heart of the PiL sound provided the solid foundation for Lydon to express himself fully whilst Lou (who I recently saw with the Mekons) added the riffs that distinguish the songs.

pil-live2Lydon, as you would expect, enjoys some banter with the crowd – he is fast and funny but, what may surprise many is that he really gives the performance his all – he does not “dial in” the performance for one second. Gargling brandy between songs and between slurps of tea and water he screams, shouts, sings and builds the crowd into a frenzy. By the time This is Not a Love Song begins with the well-recognized guitar lick, Lydon has the crowd eating out his hand – when he smiles, we smile – when he seems angry, we feel angry too!

After what seemed like a 30 minute rendition of Religion which I felt was the only time the band seemed self-indulgent and was the only song I didn’t enjoy, the set raced through Open Up and ended with an encore of the aforementioned Public Image and the iconic Rise…Lydon encouraged the crowd to chant “Anger is an energy” before thanking the San Franciscan crowd with a comment about how he appreciated the fact that they were “real”.

The tour is garnering rave reviews and this outing did not disappoint. Lydon, almost 60 years old, id not going gently into the night and is a top performer at the top of his game…9/10 effort.

Stumpy – Punk Online

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