By: Bobby Talamine
John Lydon and his band, Public Image Ltd. played Thalia Hall on October 22 and featured no opening acts -- as it should be. The band came on a little after 8:45, to strong applause and adulation, one by one first with guitarist Lu Edmonds, then drummer Bruce Smith, then bassist Scott Firth, and lastly, the man everyone wanted to see -- John Lydon.
John, in a long trench coat, with his notebook of lyrics at the ready and front and center, still had the look of punk and anti-authority about him, even at the age of 60.
As I looked back at photo I took from that night when editing, I noticed that his reading glasses had a safety pin ever present keeping them intact, like an homage to the past when his band, the Sex Pistols who broke into the mainstream in 1977.
As much as the band is tight throughout, and spot-on in regards to accompaniment, the main focus was on John Lydon, and his signature yelps, yells, and rants to end every lyric he sang, no matter what song he was playing.
From the start it seemed as though John's style of singing is beginning to take a toll on his vocal chords. From the first song "Deeper Water', a new song form their album This is PIL, you can clearly see that John is singing low-key and not blasting audience members right away. I also noticed that on the drum riser, John kept his bottle of Pedialyte there and drank from it in between songs, for what reason god only knows, but maybe it has something to do with soothing his vocal chords whilst staying hydrated.
From there, the momentum builds with each and every song played, with John getting more lively and angry, and the band following in lockstep time.
I can't say enough about guitarist, Lu Edmonds and his many many talents. A guitarist and contributor to the mighty Mekons, which is an art collective of coolness if their ever was a term for them, which also features Sally Timms and Jon Langford. Lu Edmonds and his approach to guitar playing is intricate, yet brash, just what Public Image Ltd. needs to stay afloat and ever present.
Drummer, Bruce Smith also brings a lot to the table when performing with Public Image Ltd, having drummed with The Slits, The The, and also Bjork. Bassist, Scott Firth who also plays keyboards has played with The Spice Girls believe it or not, along with Toni Braxton, Steve Winwood, Julia Fordham and Joan Armatrading, to name a few. To put it simply, these guys can play, which shows how much Public Image Ltd. is a band's band
Toward the end of the show, the hits came, one by one, with "Memories" into "The Body", followed by "Disappointed" into the "Warrior", building up to the finale before the encore with "Flowers of Romance" and of course "This Is Not A Love Song", into the anthemic "Rise". By this time, John's bottle of Pedialyte was finished, and his voice was sounding great with no break or sign of fraying.
All in all, spending the night with Public Image Ltd. was a great way to spend my Monday evening, with the post-punk diehards out in full force to witness the band first hand.
Photo Credit: Bobby Talamine