In true punk spirit, rowdy music fans pelted the Sex Pistols with beer on Saturday as the one-time scourge of the British establishment played its first U.S. concert in six years outside Los Angeles.
The hailstorm may have been meant as an homage to the band’s own anti-establishment roots, but drenched singer John Lydon was having none of it, labeling one thrower a “turd” and a “wuss,” to the delight of the 50,000-strong crowd.
The Sex Pistols, who briefly ruled the music world in the late 1970s with such incendiary anthems as “God Save The Queen” and “Anarchy in the U.K.,” reunited to headline a punk rock festival at the Glen Helen Pavilion in Devore, 55 miles east of Los Angeles.
In July, the quartet dusted off their instruments for the first time since November 1996 to play a London show marking their 25th anniversary. Guitarist Steve Jones told Reuters before Saturday’s show there were no plans for the group to perform again although he was eager for more action.
The band originally broke up during a calamitous American tour in 1978. It reunited in 1996 – with original bass player Glen Matlock subbing for his replacement, the late Sid Vicious – for a five-month world tour.
Saturday’s show saw the Sex Pistols top a bill that included other British punk veterans such as the Damned and the Buzzcocks as well as young U.S. upstarts such as Blink 182 and Unwritten Law.
During the band’s one-hour set, the irascible Lydon, 46, also managed to squeeze in pointed comments about the festival’s sponsors, Levi Strauss & Co.; a local radio station; MTV; a long-haired fan; the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame; and even his own drummer, Paul Cook, 46, for getting the beat wrong during the tasteless Holocaust satire “Belsen Was A Gas.”
The band played most of the tracks from its one studio album, the 1977 opus “Never Mind The Bollocks, Here’s The Sex Pistols,” and ended with a cover version of “Silver Machine,” a 30-year-old hit from British psychedelic rock band Hawkwind.
Matlock, 45, told Reuters backstage the Sex Pistols would be “daft” not to capitalize on their momentum and play more shows. Additionally, he said it would take only a week to make an album. “It’s just finding the right week.”
Even though the band members are hardly friends, Matlock said the musical chemistry was unmistakable.
“It’s like an old comfortable shoe – with a nail coming through it,” he said.