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REVIEW Public Image Ltd, The Coal Exchange, Cardiff.

WITH a Tory government in situ, high unemployment and revolution in the air, it's fitting that one of the '80s prime politico-punk pioneers Public Image Ltd should choose now to return to the stage.

This was P.I.L.'s first appearance in Cardiff since a show at the Top Rank in the '80s, and to say it was eagerly awaited by their fans would be an understatement.

I got the feeling this gig was all about self-expression. Yes, it attracted an older crowd, but if they were mostly a bit too old to do the expressing, punk legend John Lydon did all the self expression for them. He was presence personified as he leant out from the stage with his familiar stare.

Here was a man who holds his head high, and is defiant as ever.

I'm sure he knew all the words, but still, there was a lectern with the lyrics - used very infrequently.

There was no support band, but there's not a lot of point in a support band on a tour like this - who would really care? Without a support, P.I.L. felt the need to do a long set, but with an impressive array of albums behind them there were plenty of songs to choose from. This was a band that shouted and resisted all throughout the '80s and had far more of an influence than they have been given credit for.

As you would imagine from a man never short of a thing or two to say, there was a good bit of banter throughout the night. Twice Lydon reminded us that "we are all friends here," and when the icon questioned if there was another city in Wales beginning with S he received a few playful jeers.

Archie, my plus one on the night - who had seen The Sex Pistols play Cardiff back in the day - jokingly said perhaps he should throw his pint, but as Lydon told us all later - that is surely a waste of beer.

During the encore, with the familiar strains of P.I.L.'s biggest song, Rise, filling The Coal Exchange, a spate of pogoing and moshing broke out - and for few minutes at least we were all transported back to another era courtesy of a fine band and their legendary frontman.

by Nick Fisk


* P.I.L. frontman John Lydon
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Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Jun 7, 2011
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