Public Image Limited – Bournemouth – live review

Public Image Limited
The O2 Academy, Bournemouth
31 July 2012

The Public Image Limited tour rumbles on and Lydon and Co continue to thrill – best live act of 2012? 

PiL Bournemouth: in which Johnny brings them all out of the woodwork – every nutter from within a 30-mile radius!

Lydon seems to be a magnet for every conspiracy theorist, grinning weirdo and ”Ëœnature’s anarchist’ from Bournemouth and beyond. One such throwback (a nice bloke when he’s sober) is unceremoniously ejected for spitting (classed as attempted murder in the States, assault in the UK). Another, determined to attempt a one-man stage invasion, is bundled away by Showsec during Death Disco.

Permanently on watch stage left is Lydons minder/manager Rambo. “If he’d got on to the stage Rambo would have annihilated him” a bouncer told me “ We aren’t even allowed on the stage; that’s Rambo’s territory. We did that bloke a huge favour not letting him get up there”.

The behaviour of some other audience members amazes me. It’s a standing only auditorium but they act as if, once they’ve secured their spot, that it is their personal space and god forbid anyone squeezing thru and obscuring their view. A polite but aggressive, “I was here mate, d’you mind?” is said through gritted teeth and a look that says ”Ëœcome on then’. I wasn’t alone in thinking this as I overheard someone in the toilets with the exact same complaint.

Ray Burke’s Dublin review says it all really, but this was yet another superb PiL gig.

Anyway, no support, no need as PiL played for what seemed to be two hours or more (it’s like bloody Springsteen except good!)

Public Image Limited – Bournemouth – live review

Opening with Deeper Water and closing with a stupendous Rise and Open Up ”“ this was a mighty juggernaut of a gig. Every song an extended mix full of bowel-quaking bass ”“ solid rhythm and scorching guitar.

PiL now are a true band of four musicians totally in-tune with each other and a solid foundation over which Lydon and Lu can improvise to glorious effect. Its not just Johns show and this no ”Ëœbacking band’.

The man is on form though, his singing voice more powerful than it’s ever been. He gives 110 per cent, he bellows, veins bulging in his neck. I can’t think of any other band that could play a set full of 10-minute songs and it still keep you riveted.

PiL live are even better than I imagined. Lydon manages the impossible, to make songs like Albatross and Chant sound anthemic and life affirming despite the dark content. Religion is a highpoint, the bass driven up to max and the delivery astonishing.

Even This Is Not A Love song sounded great. Who would have thought that PIL would be one of the country’s best live acts in 2012?

Public Image Limited – Bournemouth – live review

PiL play Rebellion Festival, Blackpool today (4 August) and then the tour continues:

  • Newcastle, O2 Academy, UK, August 6 2012  (tickets on sale now)
  • Manchester, HMV Ritz, UK, August 7 2012 (tickets on sale now) 
  • Lokerse Feesten, Lokeren, Belgium, August 9 2012 (tickets on sale now) 
  • London, HMV Forum, UK, August 11 2012 (tickets on sale now)
  • Hertfordshire, Forum, Hatfield University, UK August 12 2012 (tickets on sale now)
  • Bristol, O2 Academy, UK, August 13 2012 (tickets on sale now)
  • Leicester, De Montfort Hall and Gardens, UK, August 19 2012 (tickets on sale now)

All words by Ged Babey. You can read more from Ged on LTW here.
All pictures by Bubba.

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Ged Babey is 56. from Southampton, has written since 1985 for Sound Info, Due South, various fanzines and websites, contributed to Record Collector magazine and was sole author of 'Punk Throwback' fanzine -the name of which was taken from an insult hurled at him by the singer with a young band he managed for a while. Ged believes that all good music and art has a connection with punk rock.


  1. Great review, I was there and saw Mr Babey (I am not bloke who had a go for standing in front of him but you are tall mate – just saying!).

    I can’t get over John’s voice, it was punk opera at times and the music was at times challenging for a PIL-lite fan like myself but often hypnotic.

  2. I’ve enjoyed reading both reviews of this tour so far on here – not to forget also two sold out gigs in Brighton coming up, one of which I’m very pleased to say I am attending. I saw PIL at Shepherds Bush in 2010 and was blown away – one of the best gigs I’ve ever seen – and it seems happily like they’re still on top form. I very nearly went along to this gig and I’m feeling a bit daft for not going in the end. As Ged says they’re a band and not just John and 3 others – I would also like to say Bruce Smith is an incredible drummer and Scott a demon on bass.

    The crowd behaviour thing is interesting too – frankly if you are spitting at someone, particularly in 2012, you can’t have any complaint in getting slung out. Of course gigs like this you can expect some rough and tumble but its also worth bearing in mind that there are smaller people than you about and it might not be very punk to look out for them but its kind and personally thats more important to me.

    Not to finish on a low, I agree wholeheartedly that PIL are one of the best, if not the very best, live band out there are present. Miss (and it seem see!) them at your peril.

  3. I was at the Wolverhampton show last night and was blown away by the sound and energy, Lydon’s still got it and delivers with passion even getting emotional during Death Disco, the death of his Mother still haunting him clearly. Seen a lot of bands this year and PiL were probably the best so far.


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