Review and photographs by Kirsten Ferguson
From the opening notes of “This Is Not a Love Song,” Public Image Limited sounded surprisingly muscular. Frontman John Lydon (aka Johnny Rotten) took swigs from a bottle of Cognac and wore a petulant man-boy scowl as his band of gnarly-looking veterans ground out a relentless beat that stretched seamlessly into “Deeper Water,” a tension-building new song that captures the claustrophobic feeling of sinking far under water or being lost out to sea.
Much of PiL’s Upstate Concert Hall set was like that — dark and driving, with a band of immensely capable old hands (Bruce Smith of the Pop Group and the Slits on drums; Lu Edmonds of the Damned on guitar; and Scott Firth on bass) furrowing into an insistent groove that stretched from the bleak Metal Box-era “Albatross” to the free-form, monster exorcism that was “Religion” and “Religion II” (“Lock up your children, the priests are coming,” Lydon warned).
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