Public Image LTD (PiL) @Ancienne Belgique, Brussels – 24 October 2013

(photos: StefM Photography)

(courtesy to Keys and Chords magazine)

pil 4Once upon a time there was Sex Pistols. And they set off the punk movement. Then there was PiL. And they set off the new wave scene. And nowadays, we have John Lydon, Lu Edmonds, Bruce Smith and Scott Firth ready to take us on a trip which fills out senses with a special live sound.

On 24 October 2013 Ancienne Belgique gave the floor to Public Image Limited, in a concert being part of Dub Be Good to Me, a series celebrating the 45th birthday of dub. But according to John Lydon, PiL was never a dub band. And it’s true. Their reunion took place in 2009, but it was never about resuming something left 20 years ago, Lydon is far more original than that. PiL is about getting together different backgrounds and opening up to diversity in the most solid advocacy for the originality of the human being.

The show started abruptly with “Deeper Water” – one of Lydon’s favourite tracks from their latest album This Is PiL – and submerged the audience into a setlist with no intention to be a collection of popular friendly songs or a chronological journey throughout discography.

The entire live sound was dominated by new music arrangements where the excellent bass line of Scott Firth met the energetic drum beat of Bruce Smith to basically create the ether, to lift up a spherical sound delightfully broken by Lu Edmonts’ guitar, electric saz and ud. Lydon’s voice and technique are absolutely remarkable, getting better and better each year, keeping up with the pulsating and stirring rhythmic section.

There were more highlights from This is PiL: Reggie Song, One Drop and Out of the Woods.  There were magnetic and more than 10 minutes long interpretations of Albatross and Warrior. A very special and astonishing mix of Low Life, Careering and The Order of Death.

pil7 pil 5 pil 3 Untitled-7

Public Image Limited

Public Image Limited

Public Image Limited

Public Image Limited

Public Image Limited

Public Image Limited

But even with new arrangements, a scent of the 80s emerged from This is Not a Love Song. And the feeling persisted at the encore, when Public Image and Rise were played. Standing proof was the irresistible desire of chanting along “anger is an energy”.

The last song was Open Up, wrapping up in a John Lydon declarative manner the conclusion that speaks for itself: open up people, this is the only way.

Live, Public Image LTD is different than the album experience. PiL’s performances are meant to bring people together, are celebrations of being alive, of being real. They complete the recorded artifacts and Lydon’s trend-setting vision. I assume that even there might have been people at the show expecting a punk or a new wave experience, there was no disappointment.

Once more, an outstanding setlist was played at the best venue in Brussels:

Deeper Water (This is Pil, 2012)

Albatross (Metal Box, 1979)

This Is Not a Love Song (1983)

Low Life (First Issue, 1978)

Careering (Metal Box, 1979)

The Order of Death (This Is What You Want… This Is What You Get, 1984)

Warrior (9, 1989)

Reggie Song (This is Pil, 2012)

Death Disco (1979)

Out of The Woods (This is Pil, 2012)

One Drop (This is Pil, 2012)


Public Image (First Issue, 1978)

Rise (Album, 1986)

Open Up (Leftfield cover)



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