LIVE REVIEW: Public Image Limited still going strong at 40 with sweat-drenched show at Sheffield's O2 Academy

Public Image Limited's John Lydon.
Public Image Limited's John Lydon.
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PiL are 40 years old. And singer John Lydon is 62.

How did that happen?

This is the Rotten tour. Maybe a self-deprecating acknowledgment the enigmatic band leader once gained notoriety elsewhere. Possibly.

They open up with Warrior. How appropriate for one who has fought his corner so often. Lydon glares, snarls and, just occasionally, smiles. He still means it. Man.

The band is super tight. You would struggle to get a cigarette paper between guitar, bass and drums.

The arrangements are brave. Grooves built on heavy rhythms from a multi-cultural background.

“Anger is an energy”, rants Lydon in Rise, the radio-friendly 80s hit that subverted Top Of The Pops. He has certainly channelled plenty of anger over the years. Mostly on the back of just cause or mitigation.

Yet Lydon also displays a genuine warmth and compassion. Not just for music but also his body of work and the loyalty of the audience.

Chart-bothering This Is Not A Love Song is outstanding, a sonically-brilliant piece that rides the crest of a musical wave. A new wave, from worlds apart and long ago.

At the show’s end, sweat-drenched Lydon salutes and adds: “Thanks for having us.” He is still 62.

It used to be thought pop / rock music was a young man’s game.

Never mind the misconceptions. If you’re good enough, you’re still young enough.