LIVE – Public Image Ltd @ O2 Institute, Birmingham, UK

Review and Photography by Robert Barrett

John Lydon still has a lot to say. For most reaching their 60th decade might give them a chance to slow down, not John. Even whilst in the middle of making headlines for speaking out about Disney, he decided to bring back Public Image ltd for their first tour in 4 years, including a stop in Birmingham at the O2 Institute.

Brix Smith was the tours only support, with the train issues on the night I managed to catch the back end of her set. A roaring singalong to the Fall’s classic “Totally Wired” was playing as I entered. The all-female band oozed confidence along with Brix who ended the set on the reflective “Black Butterfly”.

From the first few lines of “Religion II” Johns biting snarling tour de force was on full display. He may look older and wiser than when the track originally released in 1978, but he still delivered it with such anger and force if you closed your eyes, you’d think James Callaghan was still the Prime Minister.

Even with many of his songs written over the past four decades, it’s amazing how much they resonate with today’s climate. Whether it’s “The Bodys” refences to vaccinations or the repetitive “Mob! War! Kill! Hate! Refrain of “Chant”.

“Helloooooo, I can see every single one of you” Lydon sneered like he was about to put an ancient curse on the audience. The crowd was a bit tamer than I expected, but some signs of life were pumped into them from “This is Not a Love Song” and “Public Image”.

A cracking encore included “Shoom”, a song about John’s father that as he said, “lyrics apply so well to the fucking fake FX pistols”. Never one to shy away from a fight. An almost euphoric “Rise” rounded out the set, a set that showed that he’s not lost any of his bite.

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