Public Image Ltd @ O2 ABC, 26 Jul

David McNally | 27 Jul 2010

35 years into his career as perhaps Britain's most undervalued frontman, John Lydon brings his crack team of musical marauders to the ABC for two and a quarter hours of heavy entertainment. If he was any more flamboyant this review would belong in the Theatre section, but thankfully his band adhere to high sonic standards; guitarist Lu Edmonds flits between lead, electric oud and a bowed banjo, drummer Bruce Smith powers the set and as for bassist Scott Firth, his circular lines still resound in my rib cavity as this is written. Lydon captures all the attention, his intensity filling the venue.

Even the way he gobs into a bucket by the drum riser has more commitment in it than most bands' entire careers. Apart from some great spoken asides (to a lager-chucker: “Unlike you, I put my life into everything I do...so if you can’t finish your beer, don’t spill it!”), musical highlights abound, but it's the closing triptych that seals the deal: back to the very start with Public Image, the Middle Eastern metallic dub of one true hit Rise, and the sucker punch of Open Up, still as relevant as in 95. They mean it, maaaan. [David McNally]