Public Image Limited performing their What The World Needs Now Tour at The Copper Rooms Warwick University on Tuesday 24th May 2016

Images and Review by Kevin Cooper

Widely regarded as one of the most innovative and influential bands of all time Public Image Limited showed just why they have attracted that mantle at The Copper Rooms at Warwick University last night.

It’s not that they are breaking any new ground, they already did that some time ago. It’s not that they are rewriting the rules; they also did that quite some time ago. And it is not that they are aging gracefully, because they are as disgraceful as ever. But what they do in bucket loads is entertain and last night was no exception.

Touring to promote their latest album, What The World Needs Now, John Lydon came onto the stage to rapturous applause. Apologising for having to cancel last time, he launched straight into new song, Double Trouble, which is a rant about blocked toilets. He tackled environmental issues on Don’t Tell Me, whilst Corporate had a bass propelled presence, with Lydon screeching ‘Murderer’ with unsettling shrillness, showing that his voice still remains a fabulous instrument of outrage.

Lydon gestured like a mad conductor from behind his music stand, shaking his fists and waving his arms as he delivered trademark echoing sneers and wobbly bellows. His theatrical energy was focused; driving the set along with an intensity that was completely engrossing. Backed by his accomplished band; Lu Edmonds on guitar, bassist Scott Firth and drummer Bruce Smith, they made the songs feel as vibrant and relevant as they did thirty years ago.

But it is PiL’s singer who is the front and centre of all those songs and he certainly hasn’t softened much with age. Pausing only to spit in a tin and swear affectionately at the crowd, Lydon was as confrontational as ever. His voice may sound a little rougher but he still manages to retain his characteristically snotty sarcastic whines and howls.

His shrill intonation veered between deep growls and inflated operatics as Edmonds hunched over his bouzouki on their massive hit, This Is Not a Love Song, which was as unhinged and obtuse live as it was when it was released.

Delighting his fans with an extended menacing rendition of Religion which saw Lydon distort his voice into a demonic trill, before finishing the main set with their 1986 fans favourite hit Rise. Coming back on for new track I’m Not Satisfied, before Shoom took things to a joyfully foul mouthed place.

PiL are without doubt originators who have stood their ground even after all of these years. They know what they do isn’t for everyone and they simply don’t care. It is this attitude which makes them so exciting live, and last night was no exception. John Lydon may dress these days as though he is an upper class farmer, but his music is still as raw, energetic and angry as it was when they took the music world by storm all those many years ago.