An easy PiL to swallow

Punk-rock icon John Lydon snarls at international criticism for next week’s performance in Tel Aviv’s Heinekin Music Fest

john lyndon311 (photo credit: Courtesy)
john lyndon311
(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 Israel.”
“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.
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