Sex Pistols storm the Isle of Wight
The Best Major Festival just got better
14 June 2008
Rotten was on his most atrocious behaviour, threatening to murder the audience, calling tomorrow's headliners The Police
"bumholes", confronting Islam and complaining about the "lack of fanny in the crowd". For many, though,
his most offensive contribution was his baggy stripy pyjama top with chequered trousers combo.
"Good evening Isle Of Wight," Beamed the front-man on taking the stage, "Tonight we will be singing songs from the book of Sod's law. Sing along or fucking die."
The band then lurched into a laid-back reggae version of 'Pretty Vacant' before launching into the full-on rock version.
Musically, the set was a raucous power-house, yet as professionally delivered as that of any hard working headline rock act of today. As they drove into 'Bodies', 2008's Pistols revealed themselves to be an uber-tight, finely tuned rock machine - in start contrast to their shambolic legacy. Their limited selection of original songs from their one and only studio album were given a revamp which saw a spine-tingling extended ending to 'Problems' and a powerful new breakdown section in 'Submission'.
Lydon himself appeared to be visibly enjoying the performance, dancing over instrumental breaks and subtle displays of interaction with his cohorts gave the distinct impression of a newly formed inter-band 'chemistry' at play.
Contrary to previous speculation, no new material was aired, however the closest thing was a new take on 'Belsen Was a Gas' which Lydon gleefully introduced as 'Baghdad Was a Blast'. The song ended with Lydon chanting an a capella Adhan (Islamic call to prayer), before shouting, "Hello Allah!".
Lydon then lashed out at the rest of the festival's lineup, asking: "Aren't you tired of all these skinny homo indie bands coming up here?".
"You really are fucking quiet," he scolded the audience: "You're killing the buzz. Are you getting revved up for The Police or something? And I do mean both those bumholes in blue."
This was the first of several repremands for quiet behaviour on the part of the crowd. He later threatened: "Uncle Johnny will go home if you don't make more noise".
At one point the outspoken singer bemoaned: "There's not much fanny here. It's all blokes. Put your tits away – I'm in trouble with the courts of law for that sort of thing."
Bizarrely, considering his emigration to Beverly Hills, proud Irish roots and anti-establishment reputation, Lydon also repeatedly criticised the crowd (and the general population) for not being patriotic enough and allowing England to become diluted. These comments met with a communal a raised eyebrow and were on the whole considered out of sorts with both the band's ethos and the atmosphere of the festival.
But it wasn't all insults. Praise was lavished on Paul Gascoigne - "He's back in. He's done a lot of good things for England, apart from signing for Tottenham" - and Lydon saluted "Our friend" Iggy Pop before launching into a cover of The Stooges' 'No Fun', the second time of the day that the song had been performed on the same stage.
After playing 'EMI' The Sex Pistols left the stage to deafening applause. Lydon soon re-appeared, announcing: "From that reaction we gather you wouldn't mind hearing some more of this shite" as they powered into 'Anarchy In The UK'. The band then departed once more, leaving a solitary Lydon on-stage chanting "I wanna be Anarchy" with the crowd for several minutes.
The band then returned for their second encore, covering Hawkwind's 'Silver Machine'.
The Sex Pistols' set-list was:
'Pretty Vacant (reggae sauce version)'
'Baghdad Was A Blast'
'I'm A Lazy Sod'
'Holidays In The Sun'
'(I'm Not Your) Stepping Stone'
'God Save The Queen'
'Anarchy In The UK'
The set was a dramatic end to a sizzling festival day in which the weather continued to defy the gloomy forecasts by remaining hot and sunny throughout, as the atmosphere soared.
Before the Pistols, Ian Brown had received a hero's welcome, emerging on-stage with 9 stitches in his head after an altercation with a stage barrier at a gig in Manchester the night before. The injury did nothing to dampen his performance which - whilst it featured no Stone Roses material - delivered a swaggering set of solo classics including 'Keep what ya got' and 'Dolphins are Monkeys'. Proudly donning a Sex Pistols' 'God Save the Queen' t-shirt, Brown was in upbeat form, treating the crowd to a spontaneous a capella rendition of Rhianna's hit 'Umbrella' during a technical pause. He closed the set with a poignant version of 'FEAR' which left many lumps throats among the 50,000 crowd.
Preceeding Brown, the prize for the most chaotic and hyperactive performance was stolen (of course) by Iggy Pop who hurled himself through a turbo-charged set of punk classics including 'Loose', 'No Fun', 'I Wanna Be Your Dog', 'Funhouse' and 'Search And Destroy'. Pop goaded the heavy security presence, singing 'No Fun' directly into one guard's red face and taking every available opportunity to dive into the front of the crowd, all the while grinning and waving at the audience. The set ended with the singer trashing Bassist Mike Watts' amp stack and limping triumphantly off-stage.
The earlier part of the day had taken a distinctly different flavour with the likes of The Zutons, Kate Nash, Amy MacDonald and One Night Only entertaining the sunbathing crowd with their lighter, uplifting tones.
The Enemy had provided the first proper sing-along session of the day with 'You're Not Alone', preceeded by Tom Clarke's enthusiastic banter: "What a fantastic line up. The Zutons, Ian Brown, The Sex Pistolds - it's an honour to share the stage."
The festival continues tomorrow (Sunday) with headliners The Police, along with Kooks, Scouting For Girls, Feeder, and Newton Faulkner among others. Stay posted for our coverage as the action unfolds.