Reading Festival, UK
August 28th 1992

1992 That What Is Not European Tour
John Lydon
John McGeoch: Guitar
Ted Chau: Keyboards & Guitars
Mike Joyce: Drums
Russell Webb: Bass

Set List:
cruel (intro) / kashmir / criminal / love hope / this is not a love song / think tank / rules and regulations / seattle / don't ask me / acid drops / cruel / the body / disappointed / rise / public image / EMI

PiL's last (ever?) UK gig. The band over-ran their allocted time slot and reportedly were heavily fined.

Audio and Video bootleg recorded


Gig Review

review by Scott M, July 1998 (First published F&F6)
© 1998 F&F Publishing / Scott M


A long time ago, before 'Never Trust a Hippie' but after 'Hot Off The Press' I thought about starting my own PiL /Pistols fanzine. It never got much further than a PiL discography (which later appeared in NTAH) and a half done review of PiL at The Reading Festival in 1992.

Well, now I've actually got my own fanzine I thought I'd finally finish it. I know it's been six years since the gig, but so much shit has been written about it that the truth has to be told. For instance even the Sex Pistols 1996 Q magazine feature stated that PiL had played a "woefully received set that culminated in Lydon exposing his arse to the crowd and trying to fart into the microphone." That's a load of bollocks, I know because I was there...

I knew seeing PiL at just the Glasgow Barrowlands wouldn't be enough, and who knows it might be years before I saw them again! So it was either go see them supporting James at Alton Towers or Reading. Well, there was no way I was sitting (no pun) through James, I'd go to Reading with a couple of mates and make a weekend of it - and anyway as well as PiL there were loads of other good bands like; Public Enemy, BAD II, Nirvana, The Beastie Boys and Therapy. Don't worry I won't bore you with all the travel and camping disasters I'll just cut straight to the gig.

PiL were playing on Friday, the first day of the festival, third top of the bill, before The Charlatans and The Blunderstuff (which I thought was a disgrace), but after PJ Harvey. I made my way to the front of "the field" while PJ Harvey were still playing so I would get a good space. I managed to get right down at the front, I can't understand these people who go to big gigs and stand at the back. After PJ Harvey finished, I stood and listened to John Peel (the MC) playing obscure indie dirge and watched the roadies setting up.

I noticed that PiL were the only band, apart from the headliners, who had brought backdrops, but more importantly I noticed that the camera crew who had been taping all the bands had disappeared, which was fucking typical! Checking out the crowd I noticed it was a pretty good mixture of old and young. There were also quite a few PiL T-shirts about, and I remember wondering just how many other people had come just to see PiL, there seemed to be quite a lot.

Eventually the records stopped, and the band arrived to big cheers. Even the sight of the backdrops had me excited so by this time I was really up for it. For those who don't know PiL 1992 were; (the newly cropped) John McGeoch - Guitar / (new boy) Russell Webb - Bass (who had replaced Alan Dias a couple of weeks before the gig) / Ted Chau - Guitar & Keyboards / Mike Joyce - Drums. I thought they'd start with 'Love Song' like they had on the tour, but instead they went into a powerful version of Led Zepplin's 'Kasmir' (oh, the irony!), which they hadn't played since the 1986 tour, and as much as I hate to admit it I actually quite like the PiL version!

After a few minutes John made his big appearance sporting his PiL shorts and T-shirt along with a Leo Smith haircut. They went into the 'Point Break' track 'Criminal', which I'm not that keen on but it's as good a warm up as anything. I had sneaked a camera in, but even by the end of the first song I was pissed off with it and wanted to concentrate on the gig. They all turned out crap anyway! Next up was a fast 'Love Hope' and the crowd already seemed to be enjoying themselves, I certainly was, but because it had been raining earlier the ground was very soft and people were falling everywhere. Not me though, I made sure I didn't go down, even if it meant someone else going, there was no way I was wallowing in the mud!

One of the better ones! © Scott MThe excellent revamped live version of 'Love Song' was next and by this time John was in his "sing along with Johnny" mode. Which some people miss the point and call cabaret, but I don't see the problem with it, it's just a bit of fun and it helps create a better atmosphere. 'Think Tank' followed and it was here that John dropped his shorts to the crowd, not the end of the gig. He was only messing about and if he did try to fart I certainly never heard it, he'd done the same at the Barrowlands and it wasn't anything out of the ordinary, but as usual the uninformed music press picked up on it for all the wrong reasons.

'Rules and Regulations' was next but not before John could tell the crowd "England's gone soft in the last ten years", and who was I to argue! Russell Webb (and his six string bass!) seemed to be settling in well, you'd never have known it was his first gig. Before 'Seattle' John had to change mikes and for some unknown reason had a go at John Peel ("Fuck off you old cunt"), at least I think it was him, he certainly fits the description! At the very front, not far from me, there were some of that embarrassing punk/hippie crossover mob who were giving John a bit of hassle by singing "Johnny Rotten you're a wanker" etc, but John simply replied "Of course I am, what the fuck is wrong with masturbation" and then started a sing-along of "New age travellers are wankers!" Which they truly are.

'Don't Ask Me' was next and despite having his trusty lyric book, John still managed to make a right arse of it, he always seems to have severe trouble with that song. 'Acid Drops' followed by 'Cruel' were next and then it was a funny sing-along version of 'The Body', "Do you want my body" etc.

PiL were only supposed to be on for a little over an hour and finished with a huge version of 'Disappointed' to massive cheers (so much for "woefully received set"). After a spot of arguing with the stage manager they returned for a well received encore (the only band all day to do so), and launched into a great version of 'Rise', with what seemed like the whole crowd joining in. And before the stage manager knew anything about it Russell Webb started the 'Public Image' bassline and the place went mental. A great version, though you'd think after all these years John would have learned the lyrics!

By this time the stage manager was losing the head (though why he didn't just pull the plug I don't know, I think he just shat it!), and when John told the crowd "I'm sure you'd all love to hear EMI, not so, says the stage manager" the poor guy must have realised he was beaten and just let them play it! I don't normally like PiL doing Pistols songs, but it was a great version with McGeoch and Chau knocking lumps out of their guitars and also very relevant due to EMI buying Virgin and dumping PiL.

By the end of the song if Reading had a roof, it would have been long gone! I have to say I enjoyed this gig just as much as any of the Filthy Lucre gigs. Even my mate who doesn't really like PiL (or at least pretends not to) admitted it was a great gig, and everyone I talked to afterwards really enjoyed it too. In total they played about 85 minutes but it all sped by so fast, it seemed like 85 seconds. The press reaction was very negative but as I've explained the crowd's wasn't. I even remember the following week in The Melody Maker they asked people who their favourite bands were of the weekend and quite a few said PiL. Which just goes to show what a bad job these journalists do.

A couple of months later I got a video of the show, and I have to admit it didn't seem such a brilliant gig as I'd remembered, but there's something about seeing PiL in the flesh that just can't be transferred to tape. It doesn't matter that John's voice is out of tune or he misses words out and fucks up the band, there is such a presence that just can't properly be described. Come back now PiL!

Scott M


Picture Credits: (Top to Bottom)
One of the better ones! © Scott M
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