Did Public Image Limited disappoint Chicago?

Public Image Limited
House of Blues – Chicago, IL
May 1, 2010

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I couldn’t decide if I wanted to go to the Public Image Ltd. show. They haven’t toured for nearly 20 years and I wasn’t sure how the band would mesh together. After much debate in my head and agonizing over the absurd fees that get tacked onto ticket prices, I decided to do it. And I’m happy I did! Once the band graced the stage a smile came over my face. Lyndon’s spiky hair and oversized pin striped suit reminded you that you were in the presence of a group that has been around since 1978 and is fronted by the infamous Johnny Rotten.

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It was a small audience and an older crowd. From the back of the room it looked like the audience wasn’t grooving with the band but once I walked to the front and looked out into the crowd I could see that it was full of ecstatic mesmerized faces that couldn’t keep their eyes off the stage. Lyndon complained about the audience’s energy telling us to “help make this a proper Public Image event!” A PiL audience is much like PiL themselves and cannot be told what to do. It took a while but it happened organically and started to take on a house music club vibe when the audience and the band’s energy began to intertwine and feed off of each other. This is when you get to understand PiL’s greatness. They can get a crowd to pogo, mosh and dance all at one show! It was punk, industrial and disco melted together in a contained chaos.

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I personally liked the smaller crowd and absence of hipsters. I do hope that word of mouth gets more people to their shows. Lyndon told the crowd that the money made from the tour would pay for a new album. I would love to see what else John Lyndon can provide to the music scene. Lyndon also told the crowd that he was becoming a US citizen accompanied by a dig on George W. Bush). America is about to become a lot more interesting. The creativity is flowing through their veins again and hopefully they will breathe a much needed new life into the music scene.

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The crowd awoke when Lyndon mellowed to talk about the importance of friends and forgiveness and asked “are you disappointed?” before performing Disappointed. Spectators then grew livelier after Lyndon railed the Arizona Immigration Law during “Bags”. By the last song “Religion” the audience was hypnotized and grinning at each other. John was up to his usual bag of tricks by telling the audience to “lock up their children because the priests were coming”. But the show did lack the usually shenanigan’s of fighting with security and/or the crowd. John’s vocals were spot on and the band was flawless. They may have lost a tad of edge but you would never know they had taken such a long sabbatical from touring. Not bad for a band without a record label’s support.

To sum it all up…No John..I was not disappointed.

Written by: Joyce Bagnuolo Puplis
Photographed by: Stacy Young

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