LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Anarchy and punk rock nostalgia reigned on the Sunset Strip on Thursday as the Sex Pistols played a rare club show in Los Angeles to warm up for a brief reunion tour in Britain next month.
About 500 sweaty fans packed the Roxy Theatre for the private show, the group’s first public performance in four years. The English foursome played almost all of their songs during the hour-long set, including their best-known tunes “Anarchy in the U.K.” and “God Save the Queen.”
The show was predictably a little rusty, with singer John Lydon (a.k.a. Johnny Rotten) forgetting the words to the first song of the night, “Holidays in the Sun.” But he added some bonus lyrics along the way, notably “Paris Hilton, kiss my arse” in “Stepping Stone.”
He also struggled with sound problems and the heat.
“It’s hotter than (expletive) hell up here,” said Lydon, 51, clad in a traditional Indian kurta, tartan pants and blue vest and guzzling red wine from the bottle.
The combustible singer was in cheerily sarcastic form for much of the night. When a young woman bounded onto the knee-high stage and hugged guitarist Steve Jones, 52, in the middle of a song, Lydon quipped: “Steve Jones always gets the fat ones!”
Towards the end, Lydon took an unscheduled bathroom break and emerged a little later “15 pounds lighter.”
But Lydon eventually lost his temper after he was hit in the face with a drink. He threatened to kill the “coward” if he caught him. The fan, 21-year-old Manuel Vasquez, told Reuters he snuck into the show.
The Sex Pistols, rounded out by bass player Glen Matlock and drummer Paul Cook, both 51, are scheduled to make two television appearances in Los Angeles next week before heading to Britain for a four-night stand at London’s Brixton Academy, beginning November 8, followed by a show in Manchester.
The latest tour coincides with the 30th anniversary of their album “Never Mind the Bollocks ... Here’s the Sex Pistols” — considered one of the most influential albums of the rock ‘n’ roll era.
The Sex Pistols formed in 1975, four layabouts united by limited musical ability, mutual disdain and a vague belief that they had an alternative to the pompous music of the day.
Matlock, a key songwriter, was ousted in early 1977. He was replaced by Sid Vicious, who could not play bass at all but is considered the band’s best-known member.
“Never Mind the Bollocks” topped the U.K. charts in October 1977. But Lydon quit the following January during a disastrous American tour. Vicious died of a drug overdose in 1979.
The band first reunited in 1996 and then again in 2002 and 2003. Lydon and Jones live in Los Angeles, the others in London. Jones has perhaps the highest profile of the lot, hosting a popular Los Angeles midday radio show.
The Sex Pistols were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame last year but refused to show up, sending a rude, handwritten note instead.