john john john john john john
Pistols @ The Palace.

Honestly, John, this should never have gotten past the committee stage. Considering the recent $22.5m inheritance from Nora’s old man, the property deals & the 77 merchandise-a-thon promotional campaign – it’s not like you really need the money, is it?

No, no, no – it’s something far more sordid than that. It’s all about respect, all about being the daddy, all about wanting to be Ray Winstone – deep down inside, isn’t it? You are THE original, aren’t you? The one who kopped Dury’s safetypins, Hell’s hair & someone else’s attitude & glued it to a wide boy’s 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 – "don’t you know who I am?" – "no, but we have a fairly good idea of who you were". Hey, Ian; "it’s not where yr. from, it’s 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 didn’t 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 it’s 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 – it’s 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 ain’t the same without you. I saw you 23 times. Do you remember The Nashville? It’s fucking incredible to watch.

Punter - "Oi. You don’t 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. We’re forced back upstairs to the veranda bar & the beautiful people. Rat is busy chatting to people he hasn’t seen in years & we’re talking about collecting with some guys who own a rekkid shop in Norwich (I think). It’s nearly time for the Tardis to take us back to 1977.

The Pistols take the stage – Lydon barks – they rip into Hawkwind’s "Silver Machine" without looking irony up in the dictionary first. My good God, it’s fucking awful. Imagine Winston Churchill doing a War Memorial Show in the mid 70’s & opening with Mel Brooke’s "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 that’s 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 it’s 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 hasn’t bothered learning the words – disgruntled "real" punks who’d 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, what’s a Sex Pistol?

A - It’s 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
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