Not that you should ever believe anything you hear about the Sex Pistols, but apparently Steve Jones liberated a PA system from David Bowie’s 1973 Ziggy Stardust concerts at what was then the Hammersmith Odeon. Whether young Davy Jones (No relation, I assume) stole into what is now the Apollo and returned the favour while the Pistols were playing is not, as yet, known.

This was a homecoming in more ways than one. Jones and Paul Cook are both from West London and, by my reckoning, the Apollo is probably the closest they have ever played to the King’s Road SEX shop that spawned British Punk. Or had nothing whatsoever to do with it all, if you are John Lydon. After a summer of playing festivals, this concert was unexpected, especially as demand was so over estimated last year during their stint at Brixton. I saw then unused tickets thrown on the floor. That didn’t stop those being glorious, heaving affairs, the first indoor Pistols gigs for Lord knows how long.

Not that Hammersmith was any worse. The Pistols have obviously made a decision to be musically preserved in aspic, 'Baghdad Was a Blast' apart. Everything is as it could have been in 1978, Jones’ and Lydon’s girth apart that is. The gigs now are an interpretation of what might have been had not a scandalous and orchestrated state sponsored act of cultural repression forced the band out of the country and, eventually, existence. One can forget the hysteria and censorship that was considered acceptable in this country so recently.

The only thing missing is the anger and quite rightly. Lydon’s ability to get it right is uncanny. He knows he would look silly glowering and repressing an explosive fury as he did at while singing 'No Fun' in San Francisco 30 years ago. To try to recreate a emotional moment in time would be ludicrous. The only anger from Lydon all night was when someone hit him full on with a bottle. The odd complaint about the war apart, this is a musical event.

By Lydon’s admission, the Pistols were heavily hung over and the opening half hour did lack something, but not much. At least they did their flagging at the beginning, as they went from strength to strength afterwards. Much has been said about just how good they are live and I haven’t seen many better bands deliver so much quality with precious little if any low moments. Opening with a panto version of 'Pretty Vacant', the glorious 'EMI' and culminating their own output with singalong 'Anarchy in the UK', this was the work of Lydon as a showman.

As a final encore, a searing medley of 'Silver Machine' and 'Roadrunner', may have left some of the crowd bemused after a night of breakneck three chord rock’n’roll. This was a nod to Lydon’s later work with PIL.

Some people have raised eyebrows at the Pistols’ frantic attempts to cash in on their reputation. The Clash sang about bands selling out in the, now defunct, Palais over the road from the Apollo. Dozens of other bands have spent the last thirty years making rebellion, which the Pistols started, into money. The originators, denied the right to make a statement and a living thirty years ago, deserve every penny now.











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