London, Finsbury Park, Rainbow Theatre,
December 26th, 1978

John Lydon
Keith Levene: Guitar
Jah Wobble: Bass
Jim Walker: Drums

Set List:
Theme / Low Life / Belsen Was A Gas / Annalisa / Public Image / Sod In Heaven (Religion) / Attack / Public Image

This is the fourth and final live show with original drummer Jim Walker.

Audio bootleg recorded


Gig Review #1

review by Penny Reel, March 2003*
© 2003 / Penny Reel

PiL live at the Rainbow, 1978 © Dennis MorrisIn answer to the question as to whether I felt in any way uncertain going to see Public Image's Boxing Day gig at Finsbury Park's Rainbow Theatre, I've been attending musical events ever since I first started going down the Soho soul clubs to do the shimmy in the early '60s and was not at all intimidated by the Rainbow that afternoon. There were some sullen looking skinheads hanging about Finsbury Park, but then there always were in those days, they were just an occupational hazard of late '70s (and late '60s) London. The place was mostly filled with punks, skinny teenage kids wearing cheap clothes that they'd distressed to look more shabby still, but despite their bad press they posed no real threat, neither to each other nor to anyone else.

There were also a few dozen or less black youth most of them connected in some way with Basement Five. I knew the Five's lead singer Winston Fergus quite well and was on nodding acquaintance with the rest of the group, all regular visitors to the 100 Club's Thursday night reggae sessions. I also knew Rotten and the other members of PiL. Johnny introduced himself to me one night in the tiny corridor leading backstage at the 100 Club where Aswad and crew sat. Ducking in with a pack of Rizlas in hand, he said to me in that mocking voice of his: "Is there any nasty Mister Babylons about?" before adding, "You must be Penny Reel."

When several months later he was gettingt PiL together, he introduced me to Wobble and Levene at the same venue, so I was on vague nodding terms with them too. I recall thinking on the night how cool it was of Wobble to play seated and was fairly impressed with the group's performance, even though their music was not quite to my taste. I was on familiar terms with Don Letts in those days as well and also spent time in the company of colleagues from the music press like Melody Maker's Viv Goldman, New Musical Express editor Neil Spencer and writer Chris Salewicz, and of course Rotten's personal photographer Dennis Morris. Six days later, I went to Club Noreik in Tottenham and saw in the New Year in the company of Fatman sound and friends and felt in no way threatened there either.

Penny Reel

*Note: Penny Reel was the pre-eminent reggae writer of reggae's '70s heyday, contributing regularly to NME, Black Echoes and other publications. This PiL article was originally posted on the Blood & Fire message board, and is used with Penny's knowledge and permission.


Gig Review #2

review by David Gould, June 2008
© 2008 / David Gould

As well as Futurama I also saw the 26.12.78 gig at the Rainbow, much better.

I don't think this has been said already but PiL started their set playing 'Theme' BEHIND the fire curtain. You have to remember people were desperate for a glimpse of the band all we had seen were a few photos. After a minute or so the curtain came up very very slowly.... Wobble and Keith looking great. John with his back to the audience again for at least the first half of the song. Just to tantalise people really. Wearing a multicolour check suit which was truly excellent.

I remember the lighting was good, a wall of white light, and bass bins at the BACK of the hall (?) to deepen the sound. And John had a Tesco bag full of Heineken cans which he regularly dipped into.

I found myself standing next to Joe Strummer at one point. But I never liked The Clash so could not get too excited about that.



Picture Credits: (Top to Bottom)
© PiL live at the Rainbow, 1978 © Dennis Morris
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