The Sex Pistols

That nice Jule Howell invited me to go and see the first night of the Sex Pistols’ reunion gigs. As I was just a little too young and provincial to see them back in 1976, I couldn’t resist the chance for a little nostalgia. For a band whose premise was a musical “burn the museums”, there’s a special irony in their being a nostalgia act, yet that’s what they are (bear in mind that we’re as far away now from the release of Never Mind The Bollocks than it was from the end of the second world war).

There was a real air of expectation in Brixton. The pubs were full of forty-somethings having conversations like “Did you see Sham in Southend in ’79?” and “…so that’s when Sid punched me”. The excitement was not completely scuppered by the miserable shitty venue with its two rows of corporate hospitality seats in front of us, and scowling bouncers telling everyone to “remain seated at all times”.

The (crappy) support band were dispensed with, Dame Vera Lynne’s “There’ll always be an England” concluded on the P.A., and out came the band—at which point the bouncers gave up on the “seated at all times” rule and retreated to the sidelines.

Age has mellowed Johnny Rotten. He actually hugged Glenn Matlock on stage and told us that “we fucking love each other”, told us that Matlock, Jones and Cook are “a fucking good band” and—heartwarmingly—that he is “one lucky cunt” because of them. Don’t believe me? Check out my video:

Age has improved Matlock, Cook and Jones’ musicianship. A guy behind was commenting that they were immeasurably better than they were 30 years ago, and they were certainly tight, well-rehearsed and oh so loud. Rotten, on the other hand, had a book of lyrics bought onto the stage by a flunky, and still managed to fuck up the words to No Feelings, Liar and (for chrissakes!) Anarchy in the UK. You’d’ve thought that someone who’s made a mint for thirty years on the same dozen songs would know the damn words! Never mind, though; it was the occasion that mattered.

The band worked their way through note-perfect versions of all their songs except (I think) I Wanna be Me and Satellite, and a reworked version of Belsen was a Gas called Baghdad was a Blast for an encore, and a splendid time was had by all.

Here’s me and Julie—the MS Pistols—all excited on our way to the gig.

Bruce and Julie going up escalators in Brixton tube station

15 Responses to “ The Sex Pistols ”

Comment by Jim

She was a girl from Birmingham, she just had an abortion…

That’s my vague attempt at transcribing the video. Bodies is a really disturbed song.

Comment by jim

“Ever get the feeling you’ve been had?”

glad you had a nice nite, but ffs! the Sex Pistols? one of GBUK plc’s first boy bands…

…Now if it’d been the Damned or The Stranglers, or even GBH – proper punk.

Oi!

Comment by Bruce

Ah, Jim, you’re wrong. Pre-Vicious Pistols were great. It’s only when Rotten left that they turned shite.

You’re giving too much credence to that tosser Maclaren about their being manufactured!

Comment by Julie Howell

I must back up Mr Lawson here. The Damned are indeed a brilliant band (saw a reunion about 10 years ago that included Sensible and was one of the best gigs ever), but the Pistols are in a different league entirely. Apples and oranges.

My other half came to the gig with us. He last saw the Pistols 31 years ago at Middlesex Poly with his friend Matt when they were 16. He says it was a life-changing experience. Matt went on to form his own band. They were called Adam & The Ants. After that he formed a new band. Bowwowwow.

The Pistols have been the inspiration for so much great music, just as The Stooges were before them.

This is all the genuine article.

Comment by jim

apples and oranges indeed, but the orange is rotten…

…no pun intended ;-)

I saw Adam & the Ants play – ’bout 1980 in Sheffield, and Bow Wow Wow shortly thereafter – Much fun was had at both gigs.

I still maintain the pistols were/are rubbish, and that they got lucky with media coverage that more or less guaranteed their stardom – but will acknowledge the effect they had…

…they did indeed change lives. they just sounded bloody awful. :-)

Comment by Julie Howell

Ah yes, I was too young to see the Pistols the first time around, buy my aforementioned partner informs me that it’s interesting to see and hear them since they learned how to ‘play’. Quite a different experience. BUT BOTH WERE EXCELLENT!!!!

Comment by Oliver

- No, the Sex Pistols Epxerience are brilliant.! Or they were on the few ocations i saw them, after the pistols gig in Brixton they played better than the pistols themselves.! & i got to hear Satellite, did u no wrong & Wanna be me – which the sex pistols haven’t done since 2003.

Comment by villainy

jwall’s comment that the sex pistols experience are rubbish? what are you mad, i agree with oliver they are brilliant and have seen them a few times,they even did public image in their setlist which was a nice surprise
why would you think they are rubbish
check for your selves they all look and sound like they 70′s thing as they were better remembered