This weekend sees a divisive and controversial visitor to these shores. Though he was a lot more famous in the late 1970s, he still remains particularly popular with the older demographic. Known as a figurehead of a movement with many adherents, and many more opposed to it, he carries on as outspoken and influential character, despite the outlandish costumes he and his entourage are known to wear. Many parents have sought to shelter their children from his preachings, fearing the influence he may have on the impressionable young.
I am of course taking about John Lydon, aka Johnny Rotten, who plays Vicar Street tomorrow night.
Admittedly, I only have a passing knowledge of his musical output post-Sex-Pistols. I know that P.I.L. (Public Image Limited) have released ten albums in the decades since then, but I know little more than their most-acclaimed release Metal Box. My lack of in-depth knowledge of their back-catalogue not withstanding, I am very much looking forward to seeing one of the pioneers of punk music in the flesh. Though the Sex Pistols were short-lived, and they broke up a few months before I was born, their one and only album, Nevermind the Bollocks, became one of the biggest influences of my teenage years, and I still rate it as one of the finest albums ever made. If you have, somehow, never heard it, put it on right now. I envy you in a way, as you are about to hear one of the most explosive moments in music history for the first time. Enjoy your cheap holiday in other people’s misery. Punk doesn’t get much better than when the opening track kicks in at 00:16.
But yes, tomorrow’s gig is not the Pistols, but P.I.L. I have been educating myself (using Spotify mostly) over the last couple of weeks on their vast musical output, reading more about Lydon himself, like in this excellent piece, and will further delve into their history at the screening of the documentary about their career in the IFI this evening. Perhaps then I will have more of an idea what to expect tomorrow evening.
I do wonder, considering the weekend that is in it, whether they will play this number. Because of course this weekend also has the Pope’s visit to Ireland. I am very curious as to what Mr Lydon might have to say on the subject. Since I last wrote about the Pope’s visit, the tacky papal flags and bunting have spread like a virus around where I live, and no doubt will add to the shocking amount of waste we produce in Ireland. Not to mention all the unsold paraphernalia. On the other hand, tomorrow there will be a gathering in the Garden of Remembrance to coincide with the Papal mass in Phoenix Park, to highlight the horrific and systematic abuse by members of the church, and all the subsequent cover-ups perpetrated by the church’s upper echelons. I wonder if Mr Lydon will be joining us there?
On a final note, as I edit this on Saturday afternoon, the Pope is 100 metres or so from my apartment, visiting the Capuchin Day Centre. This centre for the homeless is run by one Father Kevin, who by all accounts seems like one of the decent members of the clergy. Some will say the same about the Pope himself. However, though he himself has not been involved in any sexual abuse, that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have skeletons in his closet. He has been implicated in collusion with the brutal dictatorship in his native Argentina. If for nothing else, he should be held to account for his, and the church’s, support for the regime, which actually coincided with the early years of our other visitor’s career. While Jorge Bergoglio was colluding with the military junta, Johnny Rotten was taking on the English establishment. And for a couple of glorious years, he was winning.