[MUSIC – UK]
Governor Hindmarsh Hotel, Thu 12 Dec, 2019.
The Gov’s main room is gently filling, mostly with middle-aged men. Tonight’s show is from the highly regarded outfit known as The Sex Pistols Experience, paying tribute to the band of similar nomenclature. Malcolm McLaren’s Sex Pistols were created as a vehicle to divest the disenfranchised British youth of as much cash as possible but, at the same time, Johnny Rotten and his crew produced some of the most irresistible music of their time. What will the audience get tonight? A searing, unstoppable torrent of infectious, rage-fuelled rock, or a laughable collection of late-period enjoyable dross such as Friggin’ In The Riggin’, My Way and You Need Hands? Only time will tell…
An orchestral version of the British National Anthem announces to the audience that the show has begun. It is overlayed with various Sex Pistols quotes, all helping to set the scene.
The boys come out, cue applause, and start with I Wanna Be Me. An excellent, and encouraging, opener. “Hello convicts,” sneers faux-Rotten, as the song ends. He looks and sounds almost perfect, although his teeth are an upgrade on the original. Seventeen features altered lyrics such as “You’re only 49” and “I’ m a lazy Sid”. New York comes next, which pretty much confirms that this show is going to be all (well, mainly all) about the earlier, pre-Great Rock ‘n’ Roll Swindle Pistols.
Once the initial flurry of belching, fake nose unclogging and nose picking passes, faux-Rotten contents himself with launching generally well-rehearsed abuse at the crowd. Dotted among the oft-heard classics are newer gems like “Nice to see fat people enjoying themselves” and “Vegemite is shit”. The band is, expectedly, undertaking a charm offensive this evening. It is interesting to note, however, that whenever these comments are directed at an individual, they are normally followed by a friendly smile or a fist bump from the singer.
The whole band looks pretty good, ticking all the right boxes with outfits, sneers and swagger. Musically they are fabulous; just about spot-on. The mix is good, but the guitar isn’t loud enough. Overall, however, it’s very loud. As it should be.
An early singalong moment comes, predictably, in the “… and we don’t care!” refrain in Pretty Vacant.
Music aside, the Pistols were always a worthy carnival sideshow act, so these guys can’t really put a foot wrong in terms of tribute becoming parody. It would be almost impossible to do so. It’s clear to most that this is supposed to be fun, and those that don’t get it are kept happy whipping themselves into a punk rock frenzy.
The great songs keep on coming. There’s an excellent version of Submission for all to enjoy, although faux-Rotten hasn’t brought his comb and tissue paper with him tonight. The pointed EMI is another belter. The first song featuring a Sid Vicious co-writing credit, Belsen Was A Gas, demonstrates the original band’s (or, more likely, McLaren’s) level of good taste. It’s performed well. Bodies takes a few moments to settle.
Faux-Rotten excuses himself from proceedings with a timely “I’m going to make my Brexit”, bringing a pause to what has been a superbly satisfying set thus far. The other three take over for a bit; it’s time for some Swindle-era songs. Silly Thing comes first, one of the post-Rotten high points. The two Sid Vicious’ Eddie Cochrane covers, Something Else and C’mon Everybody, are decent enough, although the latter suffers when faux-Jones’ guitar fails and he also leaves the stage. And then there were two…
After a lengthy break the full complement is restored, and the audience is treated to a three-song climax of God Save The Queen, Anarchy In The UK and Holidays In The Sun. A few plastic glasses get tossed lamely, and laughably, towards the vicinity of the stage. As is becoming the norm, the band stays on stage to announce their encore. No Fun wraps things up.
After 90 minutes the band calls it quits. “Goodnight, you bastards,” quips faux-Rotten as they exit. This has been a most satisfying and well-executed show; these guys sound like the real deal. No-one is ever going to see the Sex Pistols again, and The Sex Pistols Experience has a lot more to offer than most by-the-numbers cover bands. Mind you, they have a great body of work, both musically and aesthetically speaking, from which to draw.
Good value; there’s no swindle here.
Images courtesy of David Robinson