The Upshot: This is the story of Johnny Rotten who, head cold or not, was in fine singing, sneering and gobbing form, as was his tight band.
BY TIM HINELY
How I’d made I this far in life without seeing PIL I have no idea. Oh sure, they haven’t toured in a lot of time but I have plenty who caught them on the ’83 tour and while I did like PIL back then, I (somehow) missed it.
For tonight’s show at the Gothic Theatre there was no opener, which I do like on the rare occasion that happens. They hit the stage at 9:15 PM as a four piece. Johnny (Mr. Lydon to you) appeared to be sick as a dog and when he approached the mic he stated as much. “’allo Denver…I’ve got bit of a head cold this evening so please bear with me” which he then proceeded to hock a big loogie right into the trashcan that was on stage behind him. In fact, between every song he would go back, grab a swig of hot tea (erm, I think it was hot tea), swig from his bottle of Robitussen and then lean back and do a big spit into the trash can. In addition to the gobbing he was also doing shooters (also known as snot rockets ) in between some songs, after which he’d flash a goofy smile and thumbs up. Good ol’ Johnny Rotten!
The band, who I think he’s been playing with for quite some time, was excellent! There was a guitarist (that’s Lu Edmonds) who looked a bit like Charles Manson and while not being Keith Levene (more on that later) he could play, while the rhythm section of drummer Bruce Smith and bassist Scott Forth was tight as hell but not flashy (ok, the drummer was a bit flashy….eh, I didn’t mind).
On to the songs: they opened with “Double Trouble” and then, upon cutting into “Know Now,” I must say that the band (and Johnny’s sneer) were in fine form. Midset we heard “This is Not a Love Song,” “Corporate” and “Death Disco” and they saved “Religion” ‘til near the end (final song of the set was “Open Up/Shoom”). .
The crowd would not let them leave the building without coming out and playing
“Public Image” and “Rise.” The former sounded good but not great because it didn’t have that Keith Levene ringing guitar sound, but again a small quibble as it sounded fine. So if you’re wondering whether PIL is worth leaving the house for, the answer is a resounding YES!