En Attendant, #13, January 1979

(Belgian Magazine)

Transcribed by Alain Clerc, with thanks to Eric Dochez

© 1979 En Attendant / Gilles Verlant

Brussels, Theatre 140, Belgium, December 20th 1978


By Gilles Verlant

Some bands give birth to controversy: one comments their gigs, their records, their attitude. In the case of Public Image Ltd, the band of John Lydon, ex-Rotten, ex-Pistols, the controversy gets some unimaginable dimensions. If there is a gig where you SHOULD have been attended this year, it is one of the two appearances of P.I.L., on December 20, at Théatre 140, in Brussels. In short, this is what happened:

1. The band wants to demystify show-business and prove to the audience that the audience is being trapped.
2. To demonstrate it, P.I.L. is trapping the audience by giving only 35-40 minutes gigs, WITHOUT ENCORES.
3. To produce a reaction, John and P.I.L. are managing to make them hated (and they succeed).
4. As they consider that irritation, hatred and tension are part of the show, they give rise to them with a diabolic skillfulness.

If you were not attending, for sure you have heard about these P.I.L. gigs in Brussels. But there are tons of completely wrong ideas that are hanging over this event. In order to present the facts with the most complete accuracy, we have asked Clean-X, concert promoters, what has really happened, in a chronological order.

En Attendant, #13 January 1979 Friday, December 1st.
G.V. [Gilles Verlant] phones London, Virgin Records' Lisa Anderson, in order to get an invitation to one of the P.I.L. gigs at the Rainbow. Just in case, G.V. ask if it would be possible to have P.I.L. in Brussels. The idea germinates to make them come for a single concert on the continent, to allow them to rehearse, around December 20.

Monday, December 4.
Lisa gives the band's answer : "OK, we'll do it". But Clean-X hesitates: the album is just out and the first feeling is disastrous.

Tuesday, December 5.
Hesitations disappear: Clean-X gives a confirmation for December 20. An impressive amount of phone calls and telex exchanges between Brussels and London follows, about the money, the P.A., etc... On the same evening, the tickets are for sale and, within a few hours, 25 are already sold (without any advertisement).

Tuesday, December 12.
Lisa Anderson is in Brussels for the recording of Folllies, along with Magazine. The P.I.L. gig is nearly sold-out. Lisa visits the 140 and one talks about a second gig.

Thursday, December 14.
Around noon, the second gig is confirmed. The delay is due to the fact that Janet (band adviser) needed to have the agreement of each member of the group (this is democratic). The radio adverts begin (thanks to Ariola) from the day after. We are 5 days only before the gig.

Wednesday, December 20
At 14:00, G.V. meets Lisa Anderson, Janet and the band at the hotel. First words of John Lydon:
- how old are you ?
- 21
- well, find out some speed for us, then.
Jah Wobble does a trick: he asks G.V. for a BFR 100 banknote and burn it.

Sound-check begins. The band is playing with the mixing-desk and breaks a speaker. Keith Levene asks for cocaine. Phone call in all directions to find speed. Without success. The band is complaining.

The band let us know that no photographs will be tolerated. Added to that, they complain about the P.A. They will not play if the speaker is not repaired. We urgently call for a technician. To repair it, that would last half a day. The band has gone back to the hotel and we are under strong discussion with their technicians. Finally, they accept if the band can do a last check. It is already 18:00 and we decide to let the people come into the hall. The band arrives at 18:45 and at 19:00 we eventually have the authorization to open the doors. Fifteen minutes later, the band is on stage. They play for 20 minutes. Each member is stage-frightened to death.

John: "This is our last number"
Audience : "boooo !!"
John: "Well, that's it. We won't play it"
Audience: "you cunts, you cunts, you cunts!!"
In spite of this, the band comes back on stage twice. Keith, under speed, wants to have a fight with the audience. He holds a knife. G.V. is deathly pale.

20:00 – 21:00
It takes one hour to clear the room, due to selfish pigheadness of the audience. Each minutes passing brings us close to the riot in the room and outside, where 600 people are waiting in the cold. The three Clean-X promoters are on the verge of a nervous attack. Nevertheless, the doors are finally opened and in an indescribable scramble, the audience comes in.

The Mad Virgins comes on stage. They are great.

P.I.L. come on stage and are booed. Projectiles are thrown at them. At a certain moment, one of John's two rasta bodyguards hits a member of the audience with a drum stick. Their behaviour is unspeakable. It is only due to John's paranoia. This one insults the audience who cannot understand anything at all (at 80%).

The room is empty. Only two seats broken. No dead, no wound. The band leave the room, in a panic, thinking that people are waiting for them outside. G.V. makes sure the way is free. They leave. The criticism begins.

Ultimate Clean-X statement: "We have organized the most difficult gig of this year. Everything went well if you think of all the possible risks. Everyone's nerves have been tested: what the audience endured and their behaviour shows that, despite a lack of self-control, the audience has a strong dose of maturity. Clean-X congratulates the audience. We would like the opposite to be true as well.

Report (lived)
Gilles Verlant


Picture Credits: (Top to Bottom)
© En Attendant, #13 January 1979
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