REVIEW: Public Image Ltd, Corporation

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FROM frightening voice of the punk generation to butter salesman, John Lydon’s career has swung from one extreme to another.

However, there was nothing yellow or slippery about this performance. It would have been simple just to do a straighforward set, perhaps with a few Sex Pistols singles inserted to please the fans.

But if there is one thing Lydon isn’t known for it is predictability and with this performance – part of PiL’s first tour for 17 years – he proved that he still sees himself more as an artist than the sort of showbiz personality he may seem to have become.

It’s not easy listening and never was. Despite the odd hit single – in some cases extremely odd – PiL often existed on the edges of avant garde and Lydon’s wailing voice combined with ornate instrumentation still seems strange today. For some tracks the band locked into a groove and just kept going.

Some songs, such as the otherwise excellent Flowers Of Romance, were pushed just slightly too far.

But it’s all part of the fun of seeing someone who is a crucial part of Britain’s musical history in what he described as ‘intimate’ circumstances.

The show did go on for around two hours, so there were bound to be lulls.

Some things you could predict though. It was inevitable that the set would start with debut single Public Image and the mighty Rise would be an encore, although the night actually ended with a version of Open Up, his mid-90s collaboration with Leftfield.

Almost 35 years after the then Johnny Rotten first appeared in Sheffield, he is still worth watching, whatever twists his life and music take.

John Quinn