I almost saw the Sex Pistols once upon a time at the infamous Northern Soul club Wigan Casino. It was the 3rd September 1977, and they were billed as S.P.O.T.S (Sex Pistols On Tour). The excitement as I recall was electrifying, the air was buzzing with the thought we might get to witness this most outrageous group of all time from London. Alas, unfortunately news travelled fast, and they were banned from playing.

It's thirty seven years later (Jesus, am I that old?) and I am down in Manchester reliving my own punk youth, alongside many others who would never have seen the early Sex Pistols, or indeed witnessed the birth of the punk movement. We are here to partake in a bit of an experience - it is the Sex Pistols Experience.

I wouldn't say that I am a fan of tribute bands, and in the main I would shy away from them, but there are a couple that are really worth checking out. The Ses Pistols Experience are one. They are endorsed by the real Pistols, and are a truly professional set up. For some reason they have evaded me for the past few years, but now it was the time to catch them on tour. Whatever your thoughts are on tribute bands, please keep your minds open.

Enter Johnny Rotter (Johnny Rotten) centre stage, all sneery and ready to take on the crowd. In fact he is the spitting image of Johnny. It is really uncanny. They opened with 'Wanna Be Me', which is ironic coming from a tribute band. I was pleasantly surprised to see almost a full house, some excellent musicianship, and them doing the songs proud.

In fact the songs have aged remarkably well. If you were to compare this musical performance to the real band then I am guessing there would be massive differences, but these guys can play and they sound fantastic. The songs are given a fresh lease of life. The crowd are becoming a little rowdy and wanting to get into the spirit of '77. This means, of course, beer throwing, some insults being thrown about and some dancing around, but no gobbing. Thankfully we have moved on somewhat. Some cynics would say it is just not the same. Well, of course not. It is hard to compare as the Sex Pistols at the time were anarchists. They brought a musical revolution to the UK. It was fresh, daring and new. Nowadays nothing is shocking, or new. It has all been done before, and rehashed several times over, and there isn't anything which has the ability to shock as it did back then.

They ripped through a massive set list, never wavering from their personas, Johnny the same spiky red head, with an equally sharp-edged tongue, Kid Vicious - in his own words "fat Sid" - entertaining with his sullen sneer, and leather clad Steve Bones as 'Jonesy' with his cockney arrogance and an eye for the ladies. And then there was the pounding drummer Paul Crook as 'Cook'. All the classic singles were played at breakneck speed, and their versions were perfection. It was all rather amusing, and good fun, just a great sing-along night. I'm not sure what I was expecting, but it did surpass anything I'd imagined and I really did enjoy getting lost in the music. They probably enjoyed themselves far more than the original band did back in their day.

As the night was drawing to a close I stepped back to view the whole stage with the punters gathered around the front dancing and jostling amongst the beer soaked floor. Just for a moment I was back in 1977. Isn't nostalgia great? It really was something else!

Set List:

I Wanna Be Me
No Feelings
Did You No Wrong
Pretty Vacant
Whatcha Gonna Do About It?
Belsen Was a Gas
Holiday in the Sun
God Save the Queen
Something Else
Come On, Everybody
Silly Thing
My Way
No Fun
Born To Lose
The Great Rock 'n' Roll Swindle
Anarchy In The UK

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Commenting On: Academy 3, Manchester, 15/3/2014 - Sex Pistols Experience

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