Public Image Ltd, at The Regency Ballroom, San Francisco, April 17, 2010

Full disclaimer: I've become more and more of a PIL fan-boy in the last few years, and 2 days after, I still feel like I'm buzzing from how good this show was. So this is probably not the most objective of reviews...

In short, PIL ruled!

They came on stage (albeit 20 minutes late) opening with "This is Not A Love Song", then went into several of the longer more trance/jam songs that I'm not as familiar with. They played for a total of about 2 hours. Both John and Scott had music stands next to them (John's was pretty obviously his lyric sheets, but he didn't seem to use them for more than a song or 2 at the beginning of the show). He kept blowing snot-rockets onto the stage in between songs; I assume he was on some sort of cold medicine and the lyric sheets were more of a "just in case this Benadryl makes me forgetful" kind of thing, as he wasn't glued to the music stand by any means (neither was Scott from what I could tell, but his may have just been notes about which patches to turn on/off for the keyboard/click track -- I think it was too far from his mic to be lyrics). The mix was great, not CRAZY loud like Ace Frehley was at that same venue last year -- everything was nice and

Despite being sick/suffering from allergies/whatever it was, John was WAY happier and more interactive than I was expecting. I've never seen Lydon live before (in any capacity), and given his reputation for being difficult, I kind of thought he'd show up, yell at the crowd a few times, play only un-released songs HE wanted to hear, and that'd be that. I'm very happy to be so wrong about it. John was jumping around, talking to the crowd, getting them to do sing-alongs (especially during "Sun"), and said something to the effect of "it's very nice to play for such a respectful audience, it only makes us all enjoy the show much better", as well as complimenting San Francisco in general. Even the encore wasn't done as if it was a "fake ending" to the show, but instead was started with "we're going to take a quick smoke break, but we have no intention of stopping" (they came back to play 3 more songs).

Musicianship all around was pretty badass. Really solid band, and a variety of weird unexpected things...both Lu Edmonds and Scott Firth were doing the "multi instrument" thing. Scott played bass (fretless, 5-string, upright, you name it), acoustic guitar and keyboards. Lu played guitars, keyboards, melodica, and a variety of Turkish stringed instruments. Some songs had a click/backing track with them, but not everything (I'd guess about 1/2 the songs were done that way). The guitar/equipment geek in me was seriously getting my money's worth -- Lu would flip between 2 or 3 instruments in the same song (sometimes switching between banjo and guitar, then back to banjo in mid-song, etc). One interesting point was that even during some of the more "rock hits", Lu would play a Suzz (I later learned it's a Turkish thing, kind of like a mandolin with a longer neck) even on songs like "Disappointed" , which I would have expected to hear on electric
guitar. Made for some neat gear-geek moments for me.

After the show, I ended up spending about 20 minutes on the sidewalk BS-ing with Lu about his gear, the tour, etc -- super nice guy, very soft spoken, but seemed genuinely happy to let me pick his brain about guitar equipment and such. Toward the end of our conversation John Lydon came out of the venue, and did the meet-and-greet thing with a few people. I wanted to meet him, but didn't want to be rude to Lu and leave while he was in mid-sentence (I was having a MUCH higher quality conversation w/ Lu than I knew I'd get form John anyway). They all got on the bus 10 seconds later and took off for Seattle. (I'm now obsessed with getting a Blackstar amp, but WOW are they expensive.)

Other highlights included Sun, Warrior, Disappointed (a personal favorite), Public Image, Religion, and Rise (another personal favorite). I would like to have heard Happy and Home, but according to Lu they're not currently in rotation.

The venue wasn't sold out -- the upper deck was closed (do they EVER open that for shows? I've never seen it available), and a few tickets were still available at the door. I assume most California people that wanted to see PIL did so at Coachella the day before. (Speaking of, Lu said -- from the band's perspective anyway -- Coachella was one of the more disorganized festivals he's ever seen. PIL wasn't allowed to drive their bus up to the stage, instead they were required to leave it far away and be transported back and forth via golf carts. He also said they almost weren't fed either, due to some other mishap, and apparently the PA was turned off while they were still playing? Is that true? Anyone?)

Now if you'll excuse me I have this uncontrollable urge to buy any PIL discs I don't yet own, as well as a handful of weird Turkish stringed instruments...