Photo: Julia Stryj
“This is intimate” says John Lydon as he looks over the sell out crowd in the small venue on Victoria Street. Then launching into the start of two hours of intensive post-punk heavy duty noise. Lydon warbles through the first three songs of his mammoth set (no support band), a pause for breath, a drink of wine and then ‘This is not a Love Song’. But of course it is a love song. Lydon is where he wants to be. All those daft butter adverts, all that ridiculous cavorting in the jungle with Ant and Dec was to allow him to finance and resurrect the band he formed after the disintegration of the Pistols in 1978.
The last time I saw PiL play in Edinburgh it was a different affair. The Playhouse and fancy suits were the order of the day on the Album tour in 1986, an unbelievable 30 years ago. But here was Lydon dressed in clothes darker than a Scotsman’s heart watching the euros, up close and personal in a small venue giving it to us.
Having released a 10th studio album last year - What The World Needs Now, the set was a mixture of old and new with ‘Now Know’ and ‘Corporate’ sitting along side tracks from that most Marmite of PiL releases Metal Box. Lydon’s charisma oozes from the stage and while the crowd lap up the old favourites at times its hard going. A brutal and bruising rendition of ‘Religion’ sees Lydon chanting “turn up the bass” a wall of noise causes speaker cabinets to wobble and ear drums to vibrate. The audience is still recovering when we treated to the seminal ‘Rise’. It may be 30 years old but it still resonates here. Anger is an energy - you betcha.
After one encore, two hours of intensity from everybody’s favourite anti-hero, disconcerting guitar chords and thunderous bass, the lights come back on and it takes ages to squeeze out of the venue. It has been intimate.