25 August 2018 (gig)
29 August 2018
The seaside town of Bangor has been a sleepy retreat for pensioners since Victorian times. But there was no hiding place at the weekend as lace curtains didn't merely twitch, they were blown away as the force of nature known as John Lydon stormed rather than breezed into town.
It's been a while since the likes of musical legends such as Van Morrison and Thin Lizzy cut their musical teeth in the town (also birthplace of live punk performances in the province, the Trident bar, as name-checked on Stiff Little Fingers' anthem Alternative Ulster). Bangor's reputation as a redoubt of vital live music has been rejuvenated and enhanced by the annual Open House Festival.
This year festival organisers reached out to a wider audience in the UK and beyond with an exciting programme culminating in a headlining performance by the boundary-pushing Public Image Limited fronted by Lydon, who despite his Irish roots, has never before performed in Northern Ireland.
The Undertones did a great job of revving-up the crowd with their back catalogue of feel-good hits and opening up with My Perfect Cousin’and immediately transporting many of the crowd back to their youth of school discos and sparking some desperate dad dancing.
But there was only one man they had all come to see. And he did not disappoint.
Given his size nowadays it would not be much of an exaggeration to say he bestrode the stage like a colossus.
Smiling rather than sneering he launched into the pounding beat of Warrior. But it wasn't until the more radio-friendly hits of Flowers Of Romance and This Is Not A Love Song that he can claim to have the crowd totally on-side – an indication perhaps that some had turned up simply to see the legend that is Lydon.
Perhaps predictably the highlight of the set is the eponymous Public Image which was held back as an encore as was the superb Open up!
Lydon has the history, has the tunes has the chat and had the crowd eating out of his hands. He used to have the clothes as well, but all that butter seems to have gone to... well, let's not bellyache.