Friday, 4 April 2014

12/11/2007 Sex Pistols @ Brixton Academy

SubjectSex Pistols @ Brixton Academy

I wasn't sure about going to this gig - how could they ever live up to their former glories?  However, it was the original and best lineup - how many punk bands of that era can claim that these days? Also, it looked (at the time) like being the last chance I'd ever get to see one of my favourite bands. I knew I'd always regret it if I didn't take this chance to see them so... The tickets were bloody expensive though - how could they justify that when the band only have about an hour's worth of material even if they play the entire album plus all the single B-sides? 5 nights at Brixton Academy = 25000 tickets @ £37.50 each - someone is making a lot of money out of these gigs! Already I was thinking of the classic quote - yes, you know the one!

Nearly everyone I know claims to like the Pistols. No one else is going though.  I end up virtually giving away my spare ticket to a tout for a fiver in the street outside. Much as I hate those fuckers, a fiver is better than nothing - I hope he never managed to sell it - the band were due on stage any minute.

I had a look at the official merch stand on the way in - £20 for a 'Never Mind The Bollocks...' T-shirt!  They can stick that up their arse!  That quote comes to mind again... Already not in the best of moods as I entered the venue I decided I'd try and get a drink before the band started. Over ten minutes later and I was still two or three people away from the bar - all just to try and get a pint of watery overpriced Carling in a poxy plastic glass.  Realising I still might not have got served in another ten minutes I decided to go without for once.

Although the venue must have been either sold out or very close to it, I managed to get fairly close to the front without too much trouble over on the left hand side. I soon realised I was going to be on Glen Matlock's side rather than Steve Jones where I would have preferred, but it was a bit late to do anything about it by then. Anyway, it looked more crowded over on the other side and I had a virtually unobstructed view so I settled for where I was. Instead of a support band there appeared to be a drum & bass DJ or something of that sort. It was total shit and the crowd hated it. They were obviously getting increasingly wound up by this - which I suspect was exactly what the band wanted. 

Eventually, the Sex Pistols amble onto the stage. It didn't seem right seeing the band in a large venue like this - certainly not their natural habitat. It could have been worse I guess - playing one night at Wembley or Earls's Court instead of five nights at a smaller venue. Unusually, there was no backdrop behind the stage - you could see flight cases and the back wall of the venue behind.

The band launched into 'Pretty Vacant' to open the show. It didn't sound that great to be honest - but actually bad or anything, but I've heard more convincing versions of the song from bands in pubs. Half the Pistols didn't look much different than they did in the early days of the band; Paul Cook looked older but still in good shape and played tightly with a lot of energy. Glen Matlock looked virtually the same as ever - hardly a hair out of place. He made quite an effort to put an a good performance as well, although with his waistcoat and hairstyle he looked almost most like an 80's pop star than a punk rock legend (anyone remember London Cowboys?).   The other two had obviously let themselves go a bit as they reached middle age - not still lean and wirey like Mick 'n' Keef. Steve Jones had a barrel-like torso and looked (and sounded) like a middle aged man playing in a pub. He didn't play badly - he just didn't seem that bothered, although he did liven up a bit later in the set for 'Anarchy...'.  Johnny Rotten/John Lydon was in slightly better shape, and to be fair he did make quite an effort to be entertaining - prancing and running about a lot while throwing various rather affected poses. It was almost a caricature, but I thought he did a surprisingly good job of giving value for money. He also managed to slag off Malcolm Maclaren with two minutes of getting on stage - saying how he was so glad that "fucking wanker" was out of 'I'm A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here' or whatever shite reality TV program he was supposed to be on!

The setlist was exactly as you would expect it to be - absolutely no surprises whatsoever. They played the entire 'Never Mind The Bollocks...' album, plus the obligitory 'No Fun' and 'Stepping Stone'. Of course 'God Save The Queen' was saved until late in the set - when a backdrop was finally lowered - with a Jamie Reid style punk Queen's head on a postage stanp design. Steve Jones actually started to look a bit more animated and like he was actually into it when they played 'Anarchy In The UK'. Naturally, there was an encore - to fit in with the almost pantomime atmosphere - well it is nearly panto season isn't it? The band played for just over an hour and I thought they were average at best.

After getting out from a somewhat lucklustre (although to be honest I wasn't expecting much else) show I encounter the usual dodgy T-shirt vendors on the street outside. Guess what? - their shirts are half the price of the 'official' ones in the venue and they look just the same. At a tenner I nearly bought one, but I didn't really want one with '2007 TOUR' on the back and have people forever asking me if I went and how good it was.... Round the corner was another geezer selling them for only a fiver, but he only had ones left that would fit Steve Jones so I didn't bother.

I arrive at Brixton tube to find the station had shut for the night at 10.00!  Not impressed - it's late at night and I have to get from South London to the extreme Northern edge and there are no more trains. There is a 'Train replacement bus service' - but all the buses are full up and drive straight past the bus stop without even stopping! Fucking shite public transport service as usual when you really need it!  I discover that there is actually a bus from Brixton that goes to Kings Cross - to my surprise one comes fairly soon and only takes about 25 minutes to get me to somwhere I can finally get the tube home from. The tube service the rest of the way home is so fucking awful that it takes over another hour to get home from Kings Cross instead of the half hour it should take.  Was it all worth it just for an hour of a legendary band giving a very mediocre performance?

It was was a pretty expensive night out - over £90 for tickets, booking/post rip-off fees, and tube fare - and I didn't even have a drink all night!  Was it worth it? No - not even if tickets had been cheaper and I'd only bought one. If I'd paid a fiver to see that show in a local pub I'd have been satisfied, but that's about all I thought it was worth. I certainly wouldn't bother again in the same circumstances. Although if I hadn't bothered going I'm sure I'd always have wished I had...

"Ever get the feeling you've been cheated?"

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