Old punks aging gracefully – Public Image Ltd, London Shepherd’s Bush Empire, 2nd October 2015 – Viv Albertine’s book

“No future” ? Well, as recently spotted by the arrow of Picardy, these two people are around 60-years old in 2015 and the lease one can say is that their attitude does not reflect their ages. They were both part of the late-70’s UK punk and post-punk scenes and although they had been famous through the so-called “punk” movement, they reached musical excellence later, mixing punk energy and attitude with dub and reggae influences.

  • Public Image Ltd, London Shepherd’s Bush, 2nd of October
P.I.L., London October 2015

I tried and tried again to catch P.I.L. live in the last years but there was always a reason for me not to be able to attend. So I could not believe my luck when realizing that they were to play so close to home. After a long hiatus, the band went to reform in 2012 and their new 2015 LP “What the world needs now...” is as good as the previous one.

“France just scored a goal !”. For those brave enough to dig into my concerts page, they will spot indeed that until then my only P.I.L. concert had been in Paris in 1986 the day France was playing against the Soviet Union in the Mexican World Cup. As there were no way to be informed about games’ score at that time, I remember John Lyndon kindly informed us that Luis Fernandez had scored a goal to get a 1-1 draw! Anyway, old times…

This time, the band were in their classic new structure with in particular the excellent Lu Edmonds on guitar. They played a lean and straight to the point concert, with not an inch of fat. I would not describe the audience as such as there were a few old and not that thin punks in the attendance but at least this was real England from Shepherd’s Bush, far from the posh and hipster districts…

P.I.L. ; John Lydon ; London October 2015

Really great show I must say, most above my expectations, with the band revisiting magnificently classics such as “This is not a love song” or “Rise” but as well playing very long and repetitive songs from the last LP’s or the “Metal Box” era. John Lydon’s voice is what it is but nobody cannot deny this is not a true original one.

  • Viv Albertine – Clothes Clothes Clothes Music Music Music Boys Boys Boys

Viv Albertine was the guitarist in the post-punk band The Slits and their 2 LP’s before disbanding (“Cut” from 1979 and “Return of the Giant Slits” from 1980) are to me timeless classics. She wrote her memoirs last year in 2014 and I had read so many great reviews of this book that it made me want to read it…and indeed what a shocker.

The name of the book came from a quote her mum used to tell her, like “this is the only thing you are interested in” and indeed Viv talks a lot about this in her book but not only. The first part is great and the more traditional one for those like me who love music biographies : the not so glamorous life of punk rock stars, her long relationship with Mick Jones from The Clash, her sharing her flat with Sid Vicious from the Sex Pistols, the first shows, etc… Her style is really punchy and she describes very well the almost-normal life these musicians had at that time, having no conscience whatsoever in being part of something that literally changed the world. Not that far from how Tracey Thorn was describing her day to day life with Ben Watt when they started Everything But The Girl… but with less crunchy sex details…

But what makes this book really moving is the second part where Viv describes her post-musician years : the loss of purpose, the quest for a normal life, all her health issues,… basically quite normal stuff but wrote from the point of view of a woman of our ages with all her hopes and struggles. Very much recommended.

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