Archive for the ‘Merger’ Category

Public Image Ltd, Creation for Liberation Benefit Gig, Manchester Belle Vue, 23rd February 1979

Public Image Ltd, Creation for Liberation Benefit Gig, Manchester Belle Vue, 23rd February 1979
pil79This was Public Image Ltds 5th gig, and their first in the North of England. I’d been a massive Pistols fan, having seen them twice in 1976 and 1977, so I was looking forward to this one. I’d bought their first album, and found it quite strange and rather disconcerting, it was so different to the Sex Pistols. Marie and I went to the concert which was in the massive Kings Hall our at Belle Vue Manchester. We drove down and stayed at a hotel in the city centre (the Portland I think).
The concert was entitled ‘Creation for Liberation’ and was a benefit gig in aid of the ‘Race Today Friendly Society’. Also on the bill were Bristol’s The Pop Group (punky/jazzy/art-rock), Merger (a great reggae band), and poets Linton Kwesi Johnson and John Cooper Clarke. We arrived early to see all the bands. I remember seeing a lot of people from the Manchester punk scene; a couple of members of the Buzzcocks were in the crowd. Everyone had turned out to see what John’s new band was like. I remember both dub poet Linton Kwesi Johnson (“England is a bitch’ was a stand-out) and local hero John Cooper Clarke (super fast) going down well, and then there was a long wait for PIL. Pil_ButtonThe line-up of PIL was: John Lydon (vocals), Keith Levene (guitar); Jah Wobble (bass) and Eddie Edwards (from the Vibrators sitting in on drums for this one gig). There was a long, cold, ait before PIL came on stage. When they did, they wandered on and Lydon famously said to the waiting crowd, “No gimmicks, no theatre, just us. Take it or leave it”. They then launched into ‘Theme’ and played a set which featured songs from their first album, and the controversial Pistols songs ‘Belsen Was A Gas’ (this was the last time that PIL would ever perform the song, and the last time that it was performed live until the Pistols played it again during their reunion tour in 2002). The sound was poor and murky and you couldn’t hear Lydon’s vocals very well at all. John was as scary and engaging as ever, but overall the band’s performance was a little shaky, and lacking the power and depth that PIL can achieve on a good night. I was hoping we would get a Pistols hit for the encore (I should have known that was never going to happen), but they simply played ‘Annalisa’ again. It was great to see Lydon on stage again, and in a strange way, this was a memorable concert. It represented everything that PIL was about at the time: challenging, strange, not quite what you would expect, noisy and discordant.
Set List: Theme; Annalisa; Low Life; Religion; Attack; Belsen Was A Gas; Public Image; Annalisa
Thanks to Paul B. Toman for allowing the use of his image of the PIL button badge through the Wikimedia Commons licence agreement.

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