“Fancy meeting you here” said John Lydon as he took the stage before a very healthy crowd at Wrexham’s William Aston Hall. Well it was a coincidence; a gathering of Post-Punk aficionados and who should walk in? None other than the avuncular Godfather of Punk et al? Once the Anti-Christ, Lydon will always be the antithesis of complacency and hypocrisy and tonight’s career-spanning set was evidence that the old Fox has lost none of his bite.
Declaring war for the evening with ‘Warrior’ followed by the Metal Box classic Memories, PIL set their stall out for an evening of angular rhythms and insanely irresistible melodies. Throughout forty years and myriad line-up changes, Lydon’s agenda has never wavered; to challenge orthodoxy and beat an original path through the wilderness of musical creativity.
Lydon remains as delightfully irascible and acerbic as ever, tonight dealing with a stray heckler by declaring, “I’ve been at this for forty years, I don’t act it like you lot, I live it”. He also seemed visibly moved after the painful intensity of ‘Death Disco’, and why not considering the lyrical subject matter. ‘Corporate’ and ‘I’m Not Satisfied’ are perfect examples of the Lydon agenda in song, sneers of defiance, delivered while the man himself seems lost in the pulsing, hypnotic waves. The legendary PiL rhythm section is in safe hands with Scott Firth and Bruce Smith, while time spent watching Lu Edmonds on guitar is always a pleasure.
The set climaxes with biggest hits ‘Flowers of Romance’, ‘This is not a Love Song’ and ‘Rise’ before encore of ‘Public Image’, ‘Open Up’ and family favourite ‘Shoom’ sends the crowd home happy. Not before a chiding from Mr. Lydon who seemed bemused by the Welsh crowd’s lukewarm reception to his celebration of England’s result against the mighty Panama.