Gig review: PiL, O2 ABC, Glasgow

John Lydon and the rest of PiL. Picture: PA

John Lydon and the rest of PiL. Picture: PA

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PUBLIC Image Ltd are a mighty and, it seems, stable unit these days with punk preacher John Lydon delivering his extempore sermons, backed by rock solid rhythm section Bruce Smith and Scott Firth and the extraordinary Lu Edmonds on guitar.

PiL

O2 Abc, Glasgow

Rating: ****

They began this two-hour show by celebrating the present. Double Trouble, the opening track of their new album What The World Needs Now…, is a fair-to-middling effort by Pil’s peerless standards but it was followed up with a thorough excavation of the dark corners of their back catalogue, most notably a dense, macabre and drawn-out Death Disco.

Having pummelled the fans into submission, Lydon affectionately queried their energy levels. “Is Scotland getting old?” he asked of the relatively muted reaction to what was not the fieriest of Pil sets. Instead, this was a war of attrition which reached its impasse with a merciless, relentless Religion.

On the one hand, such bloody-mindedness was rather thrilling but there was only so much one could take before praying for a change of dynamic.

These heavy trips were interspersed with some (relatively) lighter moments – the mellifluous backing vocals on Disappointed contrasting with Lydon’s raucous braying and, in particular, the extended funk remix of This Is Not a Love Song. Then everyone woke up for the encore, with Lydon gleefully sharing his “bag of old chestnuts” including off-kilter anthem Rise and the signature Public Image which utterly energised the room to Lydon’s approval. “What the world needs now is you,” he flattered.

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