(photo credit: Courtesy)
Out of all the potential defenders of Israel against a cultural boycott, none would seem as unlikely as John Lydon, the crusty ex-punk who used to go by the name of Johnny Rotten back when he led The Sex Pistols in the 1970s.
But there he was – when faced with an avalanche of criticism last month after announcing that he would be coming to Israel to perform with his newly reformed post-Pistols rockers Public Image Ltd. to headline the second Heineken Music Conference Festival – fighting back against the tide with the same caustic attitude with which he railed against hippies in 1976.
As he told The Independent, “I really resent the presumption that I’m going there to play to right-wing Nazi Jews. If Elvis-f**king-Costello wants to pull out of a gig in Israel because he’s suddenly got this compassion for Palestinians, then good on him.
“But I have absolutely one rule, right? Until I see an Arab country, a
Muslim country, with a democracy, I won’t understand how anyone can have
a problem with how they’re treated.”
Lest we think that we have the 54- year-old Lydon in our pocket, he told
the BBC that instead of boycotting Israel, he was planning on creating
his own brand of anarchy during his visit here for his show on August 31
at the Tel Aviv Exhibition Grounds.
“I mean, I’m anti-government – I have been all my life, no matter where I
go – and I shall be making that loud and clearly proud once I’m in
“We’ve received a lot of hate mail, as it happens, [that] going to
Israel is some kind of political faux pas. I say, ‘Don’t be so ignorant –
it’s John speaking here, and I’m going there to cause trouble, and I
will do it musically.’” Joining him in his musical mischief in this
version of PiL are Lu Edmonds, a former guitarist for The Damned, Bruce
Smith, who played drums for The Slits, and Scott Firth, who has played
with both Costello and the Spice Girls.
According to reports surrounding their current tour, the band is on
fire, with occasional fireworks to boot, like the band walking off the
stage at one point after being insulted by Lydon.
Luckily, if that happens in Tel Aviv, there will be two other sterling acts to pick up the slack: LCD Soundsystem and The Drums.
One of the hottest alternative US acts right now, LCD Soundsystem’s mix
of electronica, punk and dance music has resulted in three critically
acclaimed albums, with the most recent – this year’s This is Happening –
reaching Billboard’s Top 10. With the brainchild of the group, producer
James Murphy, LCD is really the buzz band of this year’s lineup.
And replacing British electro-pop group Leftfield, who bailed on the
festival due to anti-Israel lobby efforts, is the Brooklyn-based indie
pop band The Drums.
And of course, like last year, there will be two days – August 31 and
September 1 – of panel discussions with artists (Asaf Avidan), music
industry leaders (representatives from The William Morris Agency,
touring magazine Pollstar and others) and new media specialists, geared
for musicians and people who work in the music industry.
Last year’s event was fun and informative, and this year’s should be no different.
Especially with John Lydon walking around.
For more information, go to www.aliveproductions.co.il