Music review: Public Image Ltd at HMV Forum

John Lydon’s PiL put in rousing performance at Kentish Town venue

�Public Image Ltd’s reunion tour came to London with a rousing gig at Kentish Town’s HMV Forum.

Vocalist John Lydon is of course best known for punk rock band the Sex Pistols. But in more recent times, he has become more famous for his Country Life butter adverts, to the horror of his older punk followers.

Public Image Ltd was always a chance for Lydon to take his music in a more experimental, post punk direction.

PiL were pioneers of the time, with their innovative, dub influenced sound. And this tour was here to promote the new album, “This is PiL”.


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Somewhat unbelievably, it is now 20 years since their last album. Original members Keith Levene and Jah Wobble are unfortunately nowhere to be seen on this latest incarnation, but Lydon has always been a survivor.

The crowd at the Forum is mostly made up of older punks who were there the first time round, some still in DM boots and dyed mohawks, many settled into a middle age life more ordinary. But the area around the stage soon becomes a mass of leaping, pogoing bodies, as the opener “This is not a Love Song” comes on.

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The band blast through a mixture of their new material and old. “Deeper Water” and “Religion” are highlights among the new songs. Lydon’s powerful voice has a unique quality to it and, dressed in a parka and huddled around the mike, he throws his heart and soul into the performance, whilst backing musicians provide a dark, sinister accompaniment of discordant guitars.

Later on we hear new release “One Drop”, a dub two tone song declaring Lydon’s love of London.

The evening ends with a rousing rendition of Open Up, a collaboration Lydon made with electronic duo Leftfield. The crowd goes crazy for it. A fitting end to an impassioned and highly original night.

* Public Image Ltd played HMV Forum on Saturday, August 11.

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