This years reunion of the four original members of the Sex Pistols that decadent and dangerous English punk band whose one and only previous U.S. tour in 1977 didnt even reach L.A. has lived in the hype and financial shadows of the reassembled KISS all summer.
Never moreso, in fact, than this past weekend in the Southland, as the punk contingent had to be happy with medium-size local concert halls, while the more popular grease-painted rockers entertained across town at the fabulous Forum, putting an end, seemingly , to the old punk vs. rock debate.
But the one area where the Pistols do outscore KISS is in the surprise factor: While it was only a matter of time before Gene and Paul and Co. attempted a return to 70s glory days (and its resulting big payoff), no one expected ornery singer Johnny Lydon to put aside his solo projects (notably Public Image Ltd.), as well as two decades of hard feelings, to regroup this bunch.
And so it was with a certain amount of wonder and curiosity that nearly 4,000 punks of all ages packed the Palladium, the second of three local shows following the preceding evenings bow at Universal Amphitheatre, near the end of this Filthy Lucre tour, as the band is cockily calling it.
Hello, boys and girls, whined Rotten (who has reclaimed his former stage name), following the opening Bodies, one of many performed songs taken from the bands only studio effort, Never Mind the Bollocks, Heres the Sex Pistols.Say hello to Johnny and the boys. The Pistols Rotten, guitarist Steve Jones, bassist Glen Matlock (the groups co-writer who was replaced in the band by the late Sid Vicious), and drummer Paul Cook) then executed a workman-like, hour-long punk show that was short on energy, both on stage and in the sheepish pits that moped on the floor in front of the stage, but long on musical nostalgia.
After all, whoever expected to see such once-shocking numbers as Anarchy In the U.K., God Save the Queen or Pretty Vacant played live ever again?
But played they were, by a band (Fat, ugly and 40 is how they refer to themselves) that appeared to expect thunderous applause, simply for their very presence. No such luck. Go spit on Pearl Jam … wanker, Rotten yelled at a persistent antagonist in the crowd, but the spitter was one of the more involved spectators.
Most were content to simply watch these grandfathers of punk as they went through the motions. The quartet wisely didnt bother trying to re-create the frenzy and circus-like atmosphere that marked their earlier existence.
The unaffected crowd showed life only during a solid read of Holiday in the Sun and a sped-up version of No Feeling. The closest thing to a surprise was the inclusion of a rather nifty take on the Monkees(Im Not Your) Stepping Stone. They also played I Love You, one of their few original songs not found on Never Mind the Bollocks.
Orange County skate-punks Goldfinger opened the evening with a half-hearted set that couldnt have interested the audience any less.
Even less successful was Gravity Kills, a weak and trendy Nine Inch Nails rip-off whose hyperactive keyboardist should be given a sedative, followed by many piano lessons.