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The Great PiL Show Swindle

Retox opens for PiL at House of Blues and gets over 70 people into the show for free. Also, a mini PiL set review, Justin Pearson meets Johnny Rotten, and more spit.

This past Monday night Public Image Ltd played House of Blues downtown.

"I realized that there were no other opening acts listed so I figured I would see if we [Retox] could get on the bill as an opener. Our agent got a hold of the promoter and they said we could play but they could not pay us since PiL's guarantee was fairly large and would not be met," says vocalist of Retox, Justin Pearson, in our chat after the gig.

The deal was, Retox could have as many guests as they wanted.

"Now that probably means something different to most people. But we had no problem at all getting our list up to triple digits. And, well, they [House of Blues] were a bit bummed. But we were not getting paid and it was in writing, so they honored it."

None

PiL's singer John Lydon is of course also known as Johnny Rotten, singer of the Sex Pistols - the Beatles of punk rock. Although PiL made it's own mark on the face of music history as the first post-punk band, Lydon's Rotten persona remains in the minds of many. The Reader's William Crain describes an example of this when Lydon walked off stage at a PiL show in San Francisco due to fans trying to recreate a Sex Pistols show by spitting on him.

Apparently the House of Blues doesn't like to get spit on either, which is why Lydon semi-politely spat into a trashcan throughout the performance. During Retox's set however, gobs of spit emanated from the band landing on the stage floor much to the disapproval of House of Blues employees who vowed the band would never play HOB again. Pearson ended up discreetly wiping up as a token of good will, after all they did get at least seventy friends into the show - that has got to be a guest list record in San Diego.

As for PiL's set, they were sonically perfect and played all of the hits. Lydon's range, microphone proximity, and voice fluttering were refined and executed masterfully. Lu Edmonds on guitar, who played in The Damned, and Bruce Smith on Drums, who played in The Pop Group, were both spot on. Edmonds at times used a banjo, bowing it at one point. Bassist Scott Firth, who played in The Spice Girls, had his shinning moment when Lydon sang to the sound engineer, "turn up the bass," over and over. The HOB sound engineer kept a nervous eye on PiL's sound person as he pushed the subwoofers to the limit, making the next two songs sound ridiculously bassy.

Lydon is the only original member of the band and had his own backstage room, mostly set up for meet and greets according to Pearson who managed to get a moment with "the Pope of punk rock," as he puts it.

"It was a trip to meet Lydon after years and years (including my entire childhood from about age ten on) of obsessing over the Pistols and PiL. I had never met him and was not sure I wanted to... However, I was a bit intrigued with his current line up, mainly since there are people from The Damned, Pop Group, and well... Spice Girls. It sounded pretty good, but didn't look very good. Of course we all get old. But I think we should push forward in a more progressive manner. A good reference point would be Jello Biafra [of The Dead Kennedys] or Keith Morris [of Black Flag and Circle Jerks], who have updated their musical endeavors in most ways and still own it. Nonetheless, it was very surreal to meet the man who has impacted my life in many ways."

PiL is currently on tour supporting the band's first record release in 20 years, This is PiL.

Retox is currently on their own tour and will be playing the Tower Bar Friday November 9th with Regents and Creepy Creeps. $10. Tickets available from brownpapertickets.com

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“Maybe if you keep your hands straight ahead and your head down, you won’t look like a sheep giving birth.”

This past Monday night Public Image Ltd played House of Blues downtown.

"I realized that there were no other opening acts listed so I figured I would see if we [Retox] could get on the bill as an opener. Our agent got a hold of the promoter and they said we could play but they could not pay us since PiL's guarantee was fairly large and would not be met," says vocalist of Retox, Justin Pearson, in our chat after the gig.

The deal was, Retox could have as many guests as they wanted.

"Now that probably means something different to most people. But we had no problem at all getting our list up to triple digits. And, well, they [House of Blues] were a bit bummed. But we were not getting paid and it was in writing, so they honored it."

None

PiL's singer John Lydon is of course also known as Johnny Rotten, singer of the Sex Pistols - the Beatles of punk rock. Although PiL made it's own mark on the face of music history as the first post-punk band, Lydon's Rotten persona remains in the minds of many. The Reader's William Crain describes an example of this when Lydon walked off stage at a PiL show in San Francisco due to fans trying to recreate a Sex Pistols show by spitting on him.

Apparently the House of Blues doesn't like to get spit on either, which is why Lydon semi-politely spat into a trashcan throughout the performance. During Retox's set however, gobs of spit emanated from the band landing on the stage floor much to the disapproval of House of Blues employees who vowed the band would never play HOB again. Pearson ended up discreetly wiping up as a token of good will, after all they did get at least seventy friends into the show - that has got to be a guest list record in San Diego.

As for PiL's set, they were sonically perfect and played all of the hits. Lydon's range, microphone proximity, and voice fluttering were refined and executed masterfully. Lu Edmonds on guitar, who played in The Damned, and Bruce Smith on Drums, who played in The Pop Group, were both spot on. Edmonds at times used a banjo, bowing it at one point. Bassist Scott Firth, who played in The Spice Girls, had his shinning moment when Lydon sang to the sound engineer, "turn up the bass," over and over. The HOB sound engineer kept a nervous eye on PiL's sound person as he pushed the subwoofers to the limit, making the next two songs sound ridiculously bassy.

Lydon is the only original member of the band and had his own backstage room, mostly set up for meet and greets according to Pearson who managed to get a moment with "the Pope of punk rock," as he puts it.

"It was a trip to meet Lydon after years and years (including my entire childhood from about age ten on) of obsessing over the Pistols and PiL. I had never met him and was not sure I wanted to... However, I was a bit intrigued with his current line up, mainly since there are people from The Damned, Pop Group, and well... Spice Girls. It sounded pretty good, but didn't look very good. Of course we all get old. But I think we should push forward in a more progressive manner. A good reference point would be Jello Biafra [of The Dead Kennedys] or Keith Morris [of Black Flag and Circle Jerks], who have updated their musical endeavors in most ways and still own it. Nonetheless, it was very surreal to meet the man who has impacted my life in many ways."

PiL is currently on tour supporting the band's first record release in 20 years, This is PiL.

Retox is currently on their own tour and will be playing the Tower Bar Friday November 9th with Regents and Creepy Creeps. $10. Tickets available from brownpapertickets.com

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