Back on this day 25 years ago...........FRIDAY DECEMBER 16th 1977
Brunel University, Uxbridge
IF THE Pistols truly believe in alienation as a creative force, then they must have been delighted with last Friday night's peak of creativity. Utter alienation. The most total lack of empathy between a band and its audience I've ever seen. Not that that many of the punks in the audience of almost entirely downtrodden-looking males noticed this - although a sizeable quantity of straighter students walked out.
Indeed, perhaps the most noticeable aspect of the gig was the way the Pistols withdrew more and more into themselves, in almost paranoid flight from the thoroughly loving emotions The True Fans were putting out. Maybe the Pistols can't handle warmth or positivism. Maybe they couldn't handle the size of the hall - an appropriately sweaty university gym/hall.
Rotten shows his loving emotion to a true fan - (Dont Care collection)
Whatever, John Rotten felt obliged to hector sneeringly: "Come on London. I expected more from you than this." What did he want? Kids to whip off their Levis, leathers and sling them onto the stage as gifts for him to walk on? Well, they did, so it can't have been that. It was unfortunate, or perhaps just interesting, that I'd seen The Clash at the Rainbow the evening before, thus putting into even sharper focus The Beatles versus Stones-like relationship that is becoming so obvious between the two bands. Mega-yin and mega-yang. Two utterly polarised extremes of positivism and negativity. It was okay, though, I guess. They played virtually all their recorded output, B-sides included. The sound was okay to fine, with only the bare-chested Sid V. having a few sound problems with his mike.
I hadn't seen the Pistols for about fifteen months. Sure, when I read all that Rolling Stone gaff about Rotten as the most charismatic rock performer ever, of course, I thought 'Oh yeah. Wow. I sussed that he had that potential, too.'
Well, actually, in those terms he doesn't. Just that beautiful - and, as on "Bodies", very funny - classic rock'n'roll sneering cackle. Much of the gig, indeed, was spent hunched up to the stage-right of Paul Cook's drum podium. When it comes down to it, though, I have to admit not only to great disappointment but also - yes, you guessed it: total success for the Pistols - to feeling that the whole game just seems very pointless indeed.
(Chris Salewicz - NME December 24th 1977)