OPINION: Public Image Limited Are Perfect For Split
By Glen Keogh on September 17, 2012 in Music
Since it’s inauguration in 2009, Sunderland’s Split Festival has become a much sought-after destination for bands trying to make their name in the region. Each year a large proportion of the festival is made up of ‘up-and-coming’ acts given the chance to play alongside established artists, and, in some cases, their beloved musical influences.
Past headliners have included The Drums, The Charlatans, Maximo Park and The Futureheads, curators who are returning to the stage again this year after announcing that Public Image Ltd will headline the festival.
Reaction to the announcement of the full line-up has been largely positive, but for those of you who were disappointed by the news, there are a number of reasons why you are in a word: wrong.
Up until this year, it’s true that each returning Split Festival has featured ever more popular contemporary bands and fans might have been expecting more of the same to headline: a buzz band of the 2012 summer festival scene, perhaps?
This year’s line-up with PiL alongside conceptual nineties electronic trio Saint Etienne seems to have defied some people’s expectations, but doesn’t that make it brilliant?
First things first; we’re going to have a Sex Pistol on a stage at Ashbrooke Cricket Ground in Sunderland. That’s something that didn’t sound particularly feasible four years ago. John Lydon aiding a gunman in the field with some Country Life and a chicken rod seemed more likely. And even that’s beside the point. As well as Mr. Rotten’s Sex Pistol heritage, it’s important to note that PiL are one of the most important and arguably even the first post-punk band ever.
The incessantly deep, pummelling basslines from Jah Wobble have been copied and imitated by countless others since, as have the shrieking guitar sounds pioneered by Keith Levene which came to the fore on the band’s first two records in particular. While they have now been replaced in the revised line-up, their legacy will still be on show. Their influence on acts even now is as prevalent as ever. Futurehead and Split co-organiser Barry Hyde said: “Finalising the line-up for Split this year has been a challenge to say the least, we’ve had some dead ends and red herrings, long shots and near misses, but finally we’ve managed to get a band we would never have even dreamed of.
“Split is bringing a Sex Pistol to Sunderland, THE Sex Pistol! It’s a punk rock miracle and we are very excited.”
Would The Chapman Family, Future of the Left, Pulled Apart by Horses, The Futureheads or even Field Music exist or exist in the states they do without the music of the Sex Pistols and then Public Image Ltd?
Would countless others in your CD (sorry, iTunes) collection be there if it wasn’t for John Lydon and his musical productivity from 1976 until the early eighties. Ok, some of his later material is a tad ropey and PiL haven’t always the ‘easiest’ listen, but their experimentalism is what makes them so great, and, lo and behold, they’ve only gone and released a new album which harks back to some of their best work.
They’re not your typical overplayed, over-promoted, or over-the-hill festival headliners, but forget about the Fruit Shoot endorsed young pretenders and take heed: Public Image Ltd headlining Split is a fantastic announcement for the festival, Sunderland and the North East.
- PREVIEW: Split Parade