"Question: Is the Pope a Nazi? Answer: Yes, the Pope is a Nazi!"
"Friends forgive," apologized John Lydon, minutes after chastising an over-exuberant audience member at Terminal 5. In spite of his seemingly gruff reputation, the singer never intended Public Image Limited to be as angry (or rude) as his other band. No, PIL has always been too esoteric for anarchy. What the group delivered, in their first NYC show in nearly two decades, was closer a slow burn, a tribal, discordant, metallic and often hypnotic collection of near-hits and obscure album cuts.
The catchy stuff ("Disappointed," "Sun," "Rise") was an anomaly, with the artsy dub ("Tie Me to the Length of That") and noisy near industrial barrage ("Public Image," "Open Up") best representing the re-activated group. Of course, bits of the old Johnny Rotten came through—"Question: Is the Pope a Nazi? Answer: Yes, the Pope is a Nazi," the frontman yelled before "Religion," a caustic, withering critique of institutional spirituality...and proof that the middle finger spirit of punk rock still resides in Lydon's forgiving heart. —Kirk Miller