Gig review: PiL

PUBLIC IMAGE LIMITED **** ABC, GLASGOW

THIS was a strange gig, but then perhaps its instigator wouldn't have wanted it any other way. While John Lydon (nee Johnny Rotten of the Sex Pistols and latterly the starry-eyed one from the 2004 series of I'm a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here!) seemed bemused and at times aggrieved by the lack of response from his audience, this only inspired him to ever-greater heights of crowd-baiting. "You seem a little scared of Uncle Johnny," he declared after a muted Flowers of Romance, then in the voice of a patronising English holidaymaker to a local: "I. Am. Your. Friend."

More was to come, first to a pint-chucker in the crowd ("if you cannot finish your beer, don't spill it") and to those involved in a brief but ferocious punch-up on the dancefloor ("it's a shame you boys can't stop kissing each other").

Yet such punkish behaviour seems beneath PiL, somehow. Progenitors of post-punk minimalism and frequent users of dub basslines and reverb-heavy effects on Lydon's voice, they're more subversive for the intelligent discord of their music than any simplistic sloganeering aggression.

Perhaps that was why the crowd contented themselves with bobbing their heads during such dubby epics as Warrior, the stunning Death Disco, Disappointed and a quite possibly too-long Religion.

Lydon – the group's only remaining founder member – seemed almost reluctant to return for the encore, but was to witness a sea change during it as the crowd finally erupted to Public Image, Rise and Lydon's mid-1990s hit with Leftfield, Open Up. "That's the Glasgow I know," he seemed happy to finally concede.

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