Kicking off with “This Is Not A Love Song”, Public Image Limited took the stage last night in Seattle, and it was an event that I thought would never happen. Without getting too far into the history of the band, I figured it was done and broken up for good. By the end of its existence, it was essentially John Lydon with a rotating cast of backing musicians. This time around, there were two members of the band that had previously recorded and performed, and one new member.
Packed with many of the hits (using the term loosely) one might expect, the band played for an hour and 45 minutes. This was fantastic, as it allowed them to leisurely play through versions of their songs and not force things into 4 minute “audience friendly” chunks. Public Image Limited never really made much stuff that was necessarily pop radio friendly anyway, so the audience was enthusiastic and enjoying the set that included such songs as “Abatross”, “Religion” and “Flowers of Romance”.
Guitarist Lu Edmonds was in the band along with drummer Bruce Smith towards the latter part of the 1980’s appearing on the album Happy? (Bruce would also appear on the following album 9.) The new member is Scott Firth on bass. While everybody sounded good, I was most impressed with Lydon’s voice. At 54 years (he mentioned his age, remarking that he wasn’t about to stop) John Lydon sounded as strong as ever.
Other songs performed in the set included “Public Image”, “Rise”, “Disappointed” “Psychopath” and “Bags”. Before launching into “Warrior”, a song which took on some markedly political overtones, Lydon remarked that he was in the process of becoming a United States citizen. That is a scary prospect.
There was no opening band. That works for me. My friend Stephen and I arrived at the venue shortly after 8, had a beer, talked, and waited for the band to start. With no opening act, we had to wait a little longer for the live music to start than we had expected, but it was nice to be home and in bed by 11:30. Still a late night by my standards, but manageable.
Interacting with the audience, Lydon was enjoying himself immensely, even smiling a couple of times. No, actual smiles, not sneers. I had not seen Public Image Limited before, missing their 1992 final tour when I had finally wised up and began enjoying the band. This was a band I was quite happy to see, and the band fully delivered the value of the ticket.