John Lydon

Ahh, Johnny, we hardly know ye. Just about the only recurring element in Lydon's quantum shifts --- from archduke of anarchy in the Sex Pistols to rubbery, synth-sheathed cynic in Public Image Ltd. to his more vague, less thorny solo persona --- is anger. Anger roils out of Lydon still, and, just as in the age of Pistols, it is a galvanizing, provocative force. He may have lowered (raised?) his cross hairs from the British royalty to free speech issues these days, and a close reading of the lyrics off his new (and first solo) album, "Psycho's Path," might seem more philosophy than rant, but make no mistake: Lydon remains the world's most pissed-off 41-year-old ex-punk media darling.

With:
Band: Lydon, Martin Lydon, Deror Margalith, Otis Hayes. Reviewed Aug. 13, 1997.

Musically, Lydon, fronting a turn-of-the-millennium-style power trio (two keyboardists and a drummer), is hewing fairly close to the PiL standard of part industrial dance groove, part thrash metal and part moody world music. But within the context of working solo, Lydon’s emerging from behind the Johnny Rotten mask of sarcasm; the portrait drawn by the title track to the new release might almost be vulnerably autobiographical.

Lydon’s making no moves toward radio friendliness a la “Rise” or “Public Image” (both of which were given blistering run-throughs Wednesday), but the churning, throbbing techno-crunch of “Psycho’s Path” already is scoring points on the club scene, where Lydon is well known and respected.

This tour, like most other Lydon affairs, has been plagued by cancellations, personnel replacements and sheer bad luck, and there were spots of roughness Wednesday night as well (plus quite a few choice Rottenesque expletives as a result). But any show, even a 70-minute one, that ends with the frontman blaming the brevity of the set on his label’s utter lack of financial support gets my vote as an honest one … loud, spleen-filled, challenging and honest.

John Lydon

The Palace; 575 capacity; $15.50

Production: Presented by Goldenvoice

Cast: Band: Lydon, Martin Lydon, Deror Margalith, Otis Hayes. Reviewed Aug. 13, 1997.

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