Review: Public Image Limited, Newcastle Academy


With the TV adverts for butter, appearances on reality TV and his, now, cartoonish persona it is sometimes easy to forget just what a unique voice John Lydon is.

The frontman shot to fame as Jonny Rotten with the Sex Pistols but after the notorious punk band crashed and burned he formed Public Image Limited.

The singer has done his best work with PiL and this tour marks the 62-year-old’s 40th anniversary with the band.

Lydon and PiL created some of the most radical, avant garde post-punk and the icon reminded this Newcastle Academy audience of its power with this mesmeric performance.

The singer’s vocal style brings to mind Noel Coward’s quote about himself “I can’t sing but I know how to” - and this is also true of Lydon.

Lydon is essentially a bluesman, howling and wailing from the depths of his psyche chillingly on the likes of Death Disco and Flowers of Romance to remarkable effect.

After opening the show with Warrior and The One and Corporate from Pil’s last album, 2015’s What The World Needs Now, the frontman hit his stride on Cruel and I’m Not Satisfied.

Lydon is backed up by his tremendous band, the virtuoso former Damned guitarist Lu Edmonds, The Slits and The Pop Group drummer Bruce Smith and Elvis Costello’s bass player Scott Firth.

The band tear into Fishing, from arguably PiL’s best work, 1986’s Album, and end the set with the chant-a-long This Is Not A Love Song and the anthemic Rise.

The band are roared back on for a rip through Public Image and the awesome Open Up which freaks out into colossal freeform jam for a finale.

It’s kind of funny how the punk pariah Lydon is now one of the greatest living Englishmen but he should be embraced.