Stub Heaven: The Review And The Stub To Prove It: The Sex Pistols In 1996
You know, I haven’t listened to the Sex Pistols in so many years it is like I forgot. Streaming Never Mind The Bollocks Here’s The Sex Pistols as I write, I feel this wave of not nostalgia for my own past but for the entire punk rock moment, Johnny Rotten’s “A cheap holiday in other people’s misery…” slams so hard, sneers so poetically, it is stuck so much in a time and place but so timeless, I can’t even imagine a modern day equivalent.
Sure, this is my music is better than your music stuff, sure I am sure people could make the same case for Nirvana (and the Sex Pistols concert I’m reviewing here happened only two years after Kurt Cobain’s death), but I wish there were words to capture the culture, political, and musical mayhem that the Sex Pistols created in 1976. Film doesn’t do, words don’t do it, nothing does it: it was a Renaissance type awakening, it was future shock that heralded everything we take for granted now, we don’t even notice: pro woman, pro gay, pro working class, a cannon across the bow of the United Kingdom’s paradise postponed.
I caught the Sex Pistols twice in Manchester on the controversial “Anarchy In The UK” tour, two of the few gigs not cancelled, and my memories are quite clear. I was twenty years old and a substantial mess of a human being but the Sex Pistols gave me a purpose: to think about what was happening around me and write about it.
Nearly twenty years after the anarchy tour, the Sex Pistols were playing Roseland, and I was forty years old. I had failed to grab a ticket when they were on sale because I had plans to see Al Pacino in Eugene O’Neill’s one (well, two) man play “Hughie” that night. But it was an early night at the less than one hour production, I was out by nine o’clock and decided to see if I could scalp a ticket to the Pistols. I entered Roseland and walked straight to the soundboard in the middle of the dancefloor, a couple of steps above floor level and had terrific sightlines for the entire show.
I consider this the best performance I ever saw the Pistols give, gone was all that so mattered to me but it was replaced by a terrific rock band excited to be there and happy to be back together. They might have done it for the filthy lucre but with Glen Matlock back at bass (Sid Vicious long gone) they had the sturdiness they needed to pull off the old songs with full on conviction, Steve Jones gave the band heft, Rotten sounded exactly the same, and if this was nostalgia it didn’t play out that way. “Ever feel like you’ve been cheated?” Johnny once asked,. No, not really.