showbox theater, uSA
november 12th, 1982
Keith Levene: Guitar
Martin Atkins: Drums
Pete Jones: Bass
Theme / Where Are You / Attack / Bad Baby / Annalisa / Careering / Chant / Mad Max / Death Disco / Low Life / Under The House / Public Image
Audio bootleg recorded
review by Stephen
Ugo Rosin, March 2003
© 2003 Fodderstompf.com / Stephen Ugo Rosin
I'm writing this review over 20 years after having gone to the concert, so my apologies if my memory is less than accurate. I had just moved to Vancouver, BC, when I discovered PiL were to play in Seattle. Considering they had been the rulers of my turntable for the past 2 years since the release of 'Second Edition', I could hardly believe my good fortune at having this opportunity. I had no idea what to expect from the show. The last I'd heard about any sort of PiL performance was from the riot at the Ritz in New York a year and a half before then. I didn't know if there would be a full band or some multi-media show or what. I hadn't seen any reviews or articles on any of the prior performances on that tour.
I went down to Seattle by bus with a couple of friends and we found our way to the Showbox Theatre. We stood outside in line for what seemed like an eternity. Once inside, the waiting only continued for another eternity until the opening band took the stage. I think it was a band called Napalm Beach or something like that. They were depressing and humourless and not very interesting. After they finished, yet another long wait for the reason we'd come down to Seattle. At long last, the show began with a tape of what was then supposed to be the new PiL single, 'Blue Water'. My heart jumped to my throat as the theatre filled with the monolithic bass of the song. It was such a thrill to hear a new recording, and such a damn fine one to boot! After that, PiL finally hit the stage for what would be an hour of pure power.
I was happy to see that they had put together a full band for the tour with Lydon, Levene, Atkins and Pete Jones on bass. Although I would have preferred to have seen Wobble up there, Jones was spot on and I felt very privileged to see three quarters of the best band in the world (little realising this would be the last tour where anyone would get to see anything like this again).
Throughout the show, the band would run through a healthy mix of tracks from their first three albums, plus some of the new tracks that would eventually end up on 'Commercial Zone' & 'This Is What You Want…' Their performance was totally flawless and mesmerising from start to finish.. One of the highlights of the show was when they performed 'Under the House' from 'Flowers of Romance'. Additional drums were brought up on stage for Keith and Pete to play so the whole song was just pure tribal rhythm with John wailing away over top. It was remarkably intense and aggressive as was the whole show.
The crowd at the front of the stage was the scariest bunch of madmen I'd ever seen. I had no intention of getting anywhere near them as they slammed into each other and spat at the stage (obviously pissing off Lydon and crew). At one point, during 'Religion', someone from the audience crawled up on stage and grabbed John with his arms around John's ankles. The "thumps" from the microphone were easily audible as Lydon smacked him on the head before security tossed him off the stage.
After about an hour, the band exited the stage and, after some loud cheering from the crowd, returned for an encore. They finished with a rousing version of 'Public Image'. About half way through the song, Lydon began bringing people from the audience up on stage until it was overflowing. You couldn't see the band anymore and then, abruptly, the music stopped and the band seemed to vanish into thin air leaving the stage cluttered with a lot of confused looking people.
Nearly two years later, I'd have another chance to see PiL in Vancouver, but it was not the same band anymore. Atkins was still there (not for long), but the rest of the band were session musicians who, although they played proficiently, couldn't come close to mustering the kind of tension and rage that was displayed in Seattle. It was more of a "Vegas" version of PiL and just didn't cut it. It's always been a disappointment to me that PiL fell apart after the '82 tour since they seemed to be at the peak of their powers in their performance and the glimpses of the ill fated 'Commercial Zone' promised yet new ground to be broken. I'm only happy that I had at least one opportunity to see the real deal in all it's venomous glory.
Unfortunately, I don't have any pictures as my camera was confiscated at the door, but I hope the review will help to add a little insight into what would become the last tour of PiL in it's (somewhat) original, nasty form...
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