After a 17-year hiatus, John Lydon aka Johnny Rotten took to the stage at The Phoenix Concert Theatre on Friday night. As the front man of Public Image Limited (PiL), Lydon demanded the audience acknowledge this fact, and behave appropriately. “Move you f—ers! It’s been 17 years and you don’t give me 17 seconds!” he bellowed at fans proving that age hasn’t softened the punk-rock attitude he became famous for while fronting the Sex Pistols.
Amazingly, age hasn’t diminished his ability to sing either. The band performed a solid 2-hour set in which Lydon’s voice and energy didn’t waver. Nor did his chastising of the restrained crowd. Backed by Lu Edmonds on lead guitar, Scott Firth on bass guitar and Bruce Smith on drum, Lydon treated the near capacity audience to songs such as “This Is Not A Love Song”, “Death Disco”, “Flowers Of Romance” and “Albatross”. “Religion”, the final song of the main set started with Lydon’s rowdy declaration “I hate, loathe and despise all religions. Is the Pope a Nazi? Yes!” inciting wild cheers and clapping from fans.
The evening ended with a fantastic three-song encore of fan-favorites “Rise”, “Public Image” and “Open Up”. Along with that, he delivered what was the closest thing to an apology you can probably ever expect from Lydon: “You’re alright, I’m just taking a piss because I’m a c—, but a good c— to have on your side.” Nobody disagreed.