Sounds, October 28, 1982 (Germany)

Transcribed by Karsten Roekens

© 1982 Sounds

New York In Autumn:
PiL Are Back!

New York, Roseland Ballroom, 28th September 1982
Support band: Art

Public Image Ltd. For weeks the youths of New York are talking about nothing else. In fact all of them: the countless Lydia Lunch lookalikes, the pill-poppers imported from Europe in small numbers for the occasion, the John Lurie / James White cool jazz and cocktail replicants, the genuine rock'n'rollers, the jazz connoisseurs, the just arrived totally clueless "where are you from, I'm from Texas" figures. All of them. Finnish scholarship holders who provide European painting over here, French trendy import rockers, but hardly any blacks.

So the rush on the demarcation line in addition was dominated by masses of punks who still stick up for their old hero, despite the spectacular flop one year ago at the Ritz, when PiL showed only videos and caused a riot, and they were all convinced that John wouldn't get away with it a second time. He didn't try. After the satirical band "Art" showed their critical awareness in a silly way by covering obviously hated chart hits and "funnily" changing the lyrics, there followed a long pause during which the rush towards places with a good sight became dangerous. The manager of the venue came on stage surrounded by burly bouncers and asked the crowd to step back a little, a request that only was sneered at.

When the American crowds don't have a line in front of them and the direction isn't set by doorkeepers or police cordons, they know no limits anymore. The rush grew into an uproar, myself in the middle, and the concert began, although shortly before the manager threatened to cancel the gig. After the trio of Keith Levene / Peter Jones, ex Cowboys International bassist / Martin Atkins had warmed up with sick blues variations Johnny Lydon entered the stage in great mood, and to the frenetical joy of the masses he delivered the whole potpourri of gestures, sneering alcoholic British jokes, punk grimaces and PiL classics, especially the first album was nearly completely played: 'Annalisa', 'Religion' and especially right at the beginning the best PiL song to date: 'Public image'.

At the front there was pogo and the stage was invaded, the bouncers who covered Lydon from sight the most time threw four or five climbers off the stage, and Johnny smiled. A touch of '77 waved through the hall. The final victory for PiL - musically a good band, by the way - came when they played the song 'Mad Max', which is destined to became a hit. John's strident voice works for a modernised white rock music, without any avant-garde ambitions, without any sweetness which would be inappropriate here in America.


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