IMG_1619This review is for: ALiFE 2009 Live at Brixton Academy 21.12.2009 (Audio CD).
This is an old familiar, a great live set from a few or more years back. What happens when you put together three consummate musicians and a chap with a voice like ‘a bag of kittens being kicked down a stairs’ (his words not mine)? You get a fresh, fine tuned and formidable PiL back on the boards. Many still resist Lydon’s relevance but it’s their loss – he’s genuine and bang on the nail every time – definitely the real deal and still one of the very few who can genuinely claim to have exerted the kind of influence that changed the course of music. So lock Lydon in a room for a few months with the outstanding Lu Edmonds, throw Scott Firth and Bruce Smith into the mix, close your eyes and hold on tight. Never have butter adverts brought forth such reward and this live recording from Brixton Academy is a real spine tingler. The banter is as one would expect as they unfurl the back catalogue. All the classics are here and the audience responds accordingly – if nothing else this is a reminder of just how much PiL produced of true quality and universal appeal. For those of us who were there first time around, the missing link arrived with this recording – we’ve had a deep recession and a rubbish government – the PiL soundtrack was all that was missing. Things change of course. Here in 2017 some years on, we’ve got a crashed currency and a crap government. No matter PiL are still on the road and Lydon is releasing his songbook. ALiFE is still great value with two discs crammed with 23 live tracks and a third carrying a rare and enlightening interview with Lydon uncharacteristically dropping the bravado that so often masks his intelligence, warmth and true passion for the music and his merry band of co-conspirators. It’s surprisingly uplifting too watching the rehearsal clips, to witness first class musicianship delivered in a beaten up old room with barely a gadget in sight – just some guitars, keyboard, a proper drum kit. No flash, no wizardry, no production massaging – just some guys who know exactly what they’re doing. There are many highlights here – This Is Not a love Song, Tie me to the Length of That, Flowers of Romance and Warrior all deliver. There are many great ways to start your day but right now, I recommend the tail end of disc two – slide the disc in, turn up the volume, step back and let the percussion and spine tingling, nerve stretching Edmonds guitar work lift you into Rise. Once there you have to gobble up Lydon’s reclaiming of Open Up – and then well, you’ve just got to start all over again. Oh and feel free to jump about.