Pistols @ The Palace.
Honestly, John, this should never have gotten past the committee stage. Considering the recent $22.5m inheritance from Noras old man, the property deals & the 77 merchandise-a-thon promotional campaign its not like you really need the money, is it?
No, no, no its something far more sordid than that. Its all about respect, all about being the daddy, all about wanting to be Ray Winstone deep down inside, isnt it? You are THE original, arent you? The one who kopped Durys safetypins, Hells hair & someone elses attitude & glued it to a wide boys gtr. The boy looked @ Johnny Johnny looked @ Ian.
The rumour mill says; poor ticket sales, tight security operation, ltd access to band. The backstage lig says more; minor league celebs, 2cnd rate punkers, the odd genuine star & some very expensive beer. Before the show Glenn, Steve & Paul flit in & out of the inner sanctum bar area for dudes with orange passes & laminates (not Ian Brown, however who has the wrong colour pass "dont you know who I am?" "no, but we have a fairly good idea of who you were". Hey, Ian; "its not where yr. from, its where you go back to once the circus finally realises you are a talentless twat who carnt hold a note".)
Rusty Egan, Mike Rossi, Nils Stevenson, John Robb, Meg Matthews you get the idea. We lig, we ponce non-alcoholic drinks & we mind our guest for the day: Mr Rat Scabies (told you there were one or two real stars present).
We manage to miss the Libertines, which is a two bob cunting shame, & concentrate on sighting Mick Jones (who is producing their LP & may well have been present we didnt see him!). We avoid the Dropkick Murphys who sound like a sober Pogues being interpreted by Christian punks. We catch Trail Of Dead Rat hollers encouragement & advice on how to trash equipment for a couple of minutes a skuffle on stage threatens to break into a genuine fight but its all a bit tame. No flames.
As we move through the crowd Rat is literally mobbed by adoring punters: massive 40 something skins covered in tats embrace him in tears its all autographs, questions & "you changed my fucking life forever, man". Gangs of Japanese midget women claw @ his legs he looks scared. Come & play Derry, maaaaan. The Damned aint the same without you. I saw you 23 times. Do you remember The Nashville? Its fucking incredible to watch.
Punter - "Oi. You dont half look like Rat Scabies."
Rat "I wish I had his money. Arf, arf."
Punter "It is you, innit?"
We lig back to the cheap downstairs bar in time to catch Pamela Hogg & her mate who is very fired up about the prospect of catching The Rapture. She bums one of my poncey menthol fags you know, the ones that taste shit in joints - & raves some more about The Rapture. Then they go & shut the ligging bar bar-stards. Were forced back upstairs to the veranda bar & the beautiful people. Rat is busy chatting to people he hasnt seen in years & were talking about collecting with some guys who own a rekkid shop in Norwich (I think). Its nearly time for the Tardis to take us back to 1977.
The Pistols take the stage Lydon barks they rip into Hawkwinds "Silver Machine" without looking irony up in the dictionary first. My good God, its fucking awful. Imagine Winston Churchill doing a War Memorial Show in the mid 70s & opening with Mel Brookes "Spring Time For Hitler". Lydon sounds like a Dalek with a flat battery. How exactly does one become an anarchist royalist? Johnny hates Tony Blair. He wants us to celebrate our Britishness by moving to LA & becoming property magnates, perhaps?
We wander around the arena (plenty of space to get about!) check the sound @ the front, the middle, the sides, the back & the wings. @ the front it sounds good: tight, raucous, professional rock & roll (if thats what we ordered?) everywhere else it sounds shite: bass way too loud, bass drum even louder, gtrs too quiet & John way, way, way too fucking loud. He roams the stage like a fat lecturer delivering his thesis on "the alternative culture trap of the average ex-pat multi-millionaire". It sucks.
We get "Bollocks" & the outtakes: "Substitute", "No Fun", "Stepping Stone", "Doncha Give Me No Lip", etc, etc but its flat, lifeless, pose ridden, angst free, leaden, perfunctory & utterly, utterly ancient. It may well have stood a chance in the confines of a sweaty atmospheric club, but here alone on this runway of a stage it dies like Custer surrounded by Indians & shot full of arrows.
We leave before the violence, for an early car park dart & a quick passage north to West London. The band murder "My Way" as we walk from the stadium. John hasnt bothered learning the words disgruntled "real" punks whod never have paid to see this sham screamed from beyond the perimeter fence, "Lydon is a wanker." We were back in time for last orders.
I asked Rat for his opinion as I dropped him off home; "They were better @ The Nashville in 76", he quipped - before heading for the comfort of a lock in @ his local & a well deserved sit down.
Q - Mummy, whats a Sex Pistol?
A - Its smaller than you think, will most likely go off in yr. hand & leaves a sticky patch on the duvet & a nasty taste in yr. mouth.
Jean Encoule trakMARX July 2002