Sex Pistols Trondheim 1977 © Truls Berge

Sex Pistols Trondheim 1977 © Truls BergeThe pre fame Sex Pistols are a fascinating prospect.

The band were far from the stumbling amateurs portrayed by the myth and they also played far more gigs than people think. Universal Music Catalogue have announced a 4CD/4LP set by Sex Pistols – Live ’76. The collection comprises four live recordings – all officially sanctioned by the Sex Pistols and professionally mastered at Abbey Rd Studios and released in full for the first time.

Some of the gigs on the 4CD box set are legendary like the famous Manchester gig and some are some of the band’s curio performances.

From the press release…

Disc one features the legendary Lesser Free Trade Hall, Manchester concert, which took place on 4th June, 1976, arguably one of the most important music concerts ever. Set up by Pete Shelley and Howard Devoto (who were inspired to form Buzzcocks after travelling to Welwyn Garden City to watch the Pistols), the show was witnessed by people including future Joy Division/New Order members, Morrissey, Mark E. Smith (The Fall) and Tony Wilson, the concert changed the course of music history, with the Pistols inspiring a generation of musical mavericks.

Closer to the band’s London roots, the second disc comprises the ‘Midnight Special’ concert, which was recorded on 29th August, 1976 at Screen on the Green, Islington – more widely known for its cult cinema screenings. This famous gig saw the Pistols supported by The Clash and Buzzcocks. Legend has it that journalists and record company staff attempting to gain entry were reported to have been barred entry.


Disc three is the live show that took place at Chelmsford Maximum Security Prison on 17th September 1976. Of the four recordings that make up this collection, this was the only one ‘officially’ recorded on 4 track ¼ inch tape, by the band’s live soundman Dave Goodman. Reportedly the idea of the band’s manager Malcolm McLaren, who claimed it was part of his strategy to have the band play more interesting, unusual non rock ‘n’ roll places, no doubt in an attempt to create controversy. Johnny Rotten rose to the occasion by being his provocative best, as can be heard on the between songs banter.

The collection is completed with a concert that originally made its way around as a fans bootleg, recorded on 25th September 1976: 76 Club, Burton on Trent. and is officially released in full for the first time.

The set features related photographs and an original facsimile Sex Pistols Glitterbest press kit from the era. Release is set for 19th August.

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  1. Isn’t it fortuitous that someone had ‘the suss’ and foresight to record these gigs using (one hopes) halfway decent equipment?

    Their musical and cultural importance cannot be overstated,
    and clearly and crucially the seismic sonic waves still reverberate down the decades.

    Some sounds never fade…..

    Hopefully these releases should also see off the green -eyed naysayers who constantly & consistently peddle the lie that the Pistols ‘couldn’t play’.

    Personally I cannot wait to hear them in their unexpurgated glory, however I sincerely hope they don’t opt for the ‘safe’ option of re-recording any ‘wayward ‘parts ala The Clash.

    If memory serves the Clash spent a quarter of a million pounds and endless days and takes in Wessex Studios re-recording and correcting everything save the main vocals & ‘One Take’ Toppers drums. This was the only way to make the soundtrack halfway listenable to ‘Rude Boy’s release.

    Let’s forgive the butter slinging, property- plus- portfolio Lydon of the last couple of decades, because at the time these gigs were (thankfully ) recorded, Johnny ‘Finsbury’ Rotten was difacto the most terrifying and paradoxically the most inspiring curmudgeonly teen on this planet; and I dare say a few others too….

  2. From memory, the Chelmsford gig, the Burton gig & the Screen on the Green gig were recorded on the sound desk but the Manchester one was recorded on a portable tape recorder by an audience member. The story goes that said audience member had removed the condenser mic, extended the wires and held it aloft on a long stick.


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