Entertainment Music

Sunday 18 November 2018


eamon sweeney

button factory, dublin

To alter musical history once is impressive, but to do it twice is virtually unheard of. The seismic impact of the Sex Pistols as the trailblazers of punk rock has been documented in forensic detail, but John Lydon's post-punk project Public Image Ltd, or PiL, haven't received equal attention or deserved acknowledgement from non-musicians.

Minutes into a highly anticipated appearance that's filled the Temple Bar venue and you can hear several examples why all at once. The former guitarist from The Damned, Lu Edmonds, plays his guitar in a warm, atmospheric and richly evocative style that's a complete dead ringer for the Edge.

Listen close to the colossal racket that this blistering quartet are creating onstage and you can clearly hear strands of sonic DNA that are all over modern alternative music from the Prodigy to Primal Scream.

Lest we forget, the icing on the cake is the manic live-wire energy of the one and only John Lydon, possessor of one of the most distinctive and abrasive voices in rock. He's proudly poured his heart, soul and financial resources into keeping PiL on the road without the backing of a record label.

The results are quite stunning. While lacking the thundering shock and awe of last summer's show in the former TriPod venue on Harcourt Street, PiL are still cooking. This is their third show here in as many years, so while the sense of occasion and surprise is admittedly diluted, they remain a thrilling live proposition. Classics from their back catalogue such as 'Flowers of Romance' sit alongside reggae infused new songs such as 'One Drop' and 'Lollipop Opera', which are as deliciously demented as you'd expect from Lydon.

The punk warlord can still fashion a good quip. Before he takes a short break to have a cigarette, he tells the crowd: "You're perfectly entitled to make as much noise as me." He returns for the roof-raising encore 'Rise' with its classic refrain "Anger is an energy", and his club hit with Leftfield 'Open Up'.

As important as the Sex Pistols were to the evolution of modern music, they only released one album. Public Image Ltd have displayed impressive stealth and staying power since 1978, now boasting nine studio albums to their name with this summer's release of 'This is PiL'.

If you thought Lydon's recent activity simply involved a merry-go-round of controversy via reality TV shows, butter adverts and a spectacular spat with Bloc Party's Kele Okereke, you're sorely mistaken.

On tonight's marvellously noisy evidence, Public Image Ltd aren't going anywhere anytime soon.

Irish Independent

Entertainment Newsletter

Going out? Staying in? From great gigs to film reviews and listings, entertainment has you covered.

Editors Choice

Also in Entertainment

Back to top