Sex Pistols at the Hard Rock’s Joint: ‘No Fun’ indeed

Johnny Rotten by Hew Burney
Nice pajamas. (Photo by Hew Burney)

Sex Pistols fans had two choices Saturday night to see the legendary punk rock band perform the snarling, iconic songs that defined its original, 18-month career: Hold in their hands tickets to the band’s sold-out tour kick-off at the Joint inside the Hard Rock Hotel Las Vegas, or construct a time machine and go back in time to 1977 England.

The time machine option would have been the smarter of the two.

The Sex Pistols – who are clearly just banking their retirement at this point – reinforced the necessity of their original break-up 30 years ago in a performance Saturday night that was more pathetic than anything else. Not that the legions of fans who packed the Hard Rock’s venue – mostly late-model Boomers way past their prime (oh, like the band on-stage?) – would agree. They were too blinded with pure fanaticism, reliving their foregone youths to notice that John Lydon and crew were mere caricatures of themselves, punctuating the reason why our fondest idols died (or broke up) young: Morrison, Dean, Curtis, etc.

Lydon was perhaps worst-off: Bloated and dressed in pajamas, happy to let the audience do half the singing while he posed and postured in jest, barely moving from his spot. Meanwhile, guitarist Steve Jones and bassist Glen Matlock gave workmanlike performances, Matlock playing more to the crowd. Either way, Matlock, Jones and drummer Paul Cook all made Lydon look even less vital. For me, this was punctuated when the Pistols performed their version of Iggy Pop’s “No Fun” – after seeing Iggy and the Stooges perform about nine months ago with such verve and vigor (and Lydon has, what, 10 years on Iggy?!), the Pistols’ performance was just … sad.

But even worse, their audience treated opening act Louis XIV with utter disrespect and disdain. Between each song, the crowd would boo the San Diego-based retro-rockers, many loudly exclaiming they came to see the Sex Pistols, and nothing else. Louis XIV has played Vegas many times – they’ve become close friends with The Killers – and I’ve never seen such a poor reaction. But what else to expect from a crowd of middle-aged, white, tatooed guys wearing matching, ugly, yellow Sex Pistols T-shirts they’d all just forked over $35 for at the merch booth?

After the show, Lydon met up with motocross star and tattoo shop owner Carey Hart inside his soon-to-open Hard Rock venue, Wasted Space, where Hart was showing the space to rock drummer Matt Sorum. After not-too-long, they were joined by a contingent from the concert’s VIP section, including The Killers’ Dave Keuning, Mark Stoermer and Ronnie Vannucci and Sorum’s former Cult band mates, Billy Morrison and Billy Duffy.

Let’s face it, the only way to experience the Sex Pistols is at the top of their game, and that opportunity blew by 30 years ago. Despite comprising the original lineup, this touring version of the Sex Pistols is no more real than The Doors of the 21st Century or the Dead Kennedys without Jello Biafra. You’re better off doing some heroin in your bedroom while Never Mind The Bollocks plays on your stereo.

15 Responses to “Sex Pistols at the Hard Rock’s Joint: ‘No Fun’ indeed”

  1. DestroyRadio says:

    Come on! Yes I like Louis XIV, but pairing them with the Sex Pistols was a really bad idea. Two completely different sounds. Whoever put the show together screwed up. Someone Old School like the Circle jerks or Adolescents would have been a better pairing.
    And I felt like the Sex Pistols put on a really nice performance. Sorry we can’t go back to ’77, but the lame “Joint Security” kept the crowd from even being able to pump up the adreneline. If the crowd is subdued, how can you expect the band to feed off of nothing?
    I also find it amusing that you make fun of Johnny’s pajamas, when your supposed name is P.J.

  2. Harsh….lol…Never Mind The Grandpa

  3. Hey, DestroyRadio — thx for the comments. I fully agree — my friend with me at the show asked “Who could you really pair with the Sex Pistols anyway?” and I could really only think of old-schoolers such as the Descendants, etc. … problem is, bands of their age usually play alone (such as the Cure) or on packages (all those butt-rock revivals).

    Don’t get me wrong — I was impressed with their abilities at this late stage, but I couldn’t “get into” the show or take it seriously for the most part.

  4. Old School says:

    The show was excellent. The opening act was pure and utter shite. To assume that those of us who purchased tickets aren’t keen to the fact that they are only touring to pay their mortgages and maybe bank some extra for retirement is naive. Yes, we purchased tickets. Yes, we know the tour is a swindle to make extra cash off the fame of a very short band. However, what you fail to realize is that The Sex Pistols have always been a sham! It’s always been a rock-n-roll swindle! That is the entire fun of the event! It was fun to sing along to the songs that got us into the punk scene in our youth. It was also a ton of fun to watch the antics of John Lydon both in his comments on the sad state of modern rock-n-roll (opening act as brought along proof!). Maybe the author of this article is too self absorbed in his mark status for the opening act (I refuse to acknowledge them by name, they were awful)to get the irony. Yeah, maybe I’m one of those mid 30’s, tattooed down ‘has beens’, I’m also the same mid 30’s, tattooed has been that would knock your lame ass out if I had the chance.


    Old School

  5. Thanks for your colorful comments, Old School. Just to clarify a few things:

    1) When I referred to “middle-aged, white, tattooed guys wearing matching, ugly, yellow Sex Pistols T-shirts,” I literally meant middle-aged — those in the same range as the Pistols, who will be living on Social Security in less than 10 years. The author is white, in his mid-30s and tattooed.

    2) I’m no fan of Louis XIV, personally, but I just found it kinda unfair for that band to get stuck in front of a crowd that obviously didn’t have enough decency to even respect them getting up there.

    3) I look forward to meeting you in a dark alley soon!


    The Peej

  6. i wish u were dead.
    u got no feelings, your a liar and a problem, if u were in the uk there would be anarchy. your bodies hould be ashamed, they did you no wrong you silly thing. I wanna be me, my way, I’m 43 not seventeen and your a lazy sod for not shouting the lyrics, c’mon everybody this is something else! make the most of it whilst its here, soon they’ll be ‘avin heart attacks and stuff and that’ll be that. think your self lucky son! you’ve seen em alive!
    God save the queen.

  7. I love Spike. When I go back to the UK, I wanna have a pint with him.

    Oh, not to anyone in particular, but since Spike brought it up, I DEFINITELY attended this puppy because seeing the Sex Pistols was on the “must do before dying list.” So maybe I set my expectations too high before going in.

  8. i dint meen 2 leave kisses at the end, its habbit.

  9. Ha! It’s OK, Spike, I figured those were murderous punches, not kisses.

  10. I’m going 2nite 11th Birmingham academy. I’ve sung my heart out on many occasions to pistols tribute bands, i just hope they don’t let me down.
    or I’m fucke*

  11. I’ll bet it’s better than Vegas. I interviewed Johnny for a magazine cover story, and he told me, “I don’t like Las Vegas. I don’t like to gamble. I quite like the desert though, just not the monstrosities of people sitting in front of the slot machines.”

    But really, I was shouting along to the band as well, but I had to close my eyes to do it and pretend there wasn’t the silly old clown man on stage. 😉

  12. IrishMASMS says:

    I am glad in the decision I made to not bother going, or try to scrounge tickets. Sleeping was the better option.

  13. What a nite! I can not believe just how good that was. There was no support act, which in my opinion, made the anticipation even greater. My watch got ripped off by the crowd surge during the first song and i would have had to risk death trying to retrieve it. I’ve lost my voice and a stone in weight. Honestly that was the best concert i have ever been to in my life and i’ve done a few, people were throwing pints of lager into the crowd and it was a relief to get hit, it was so rammed and no one could keep still or quiet. john had to ask if they sounded alright, they couldn’t hear themselves due to the whole place singing every lyric, they sounded great! It was easy to pretend it was 1977. That’s a real nice venue as well, not like the Hammersmith odeon where i saw Neil Young in March, which was like a disused bingo hall from the 60’s and smelled of farts. I’m sitting here now in my new anarchy t-shirt,ears still pinging, wet clothes in a carrier bag beside me writing this and i feel like i’m 14 again not 43, i aint going to be able to sleep.
    I might have to get my passport renewed and catch another gig somewhere on the tour, that was priceless.
    all the best

  14. “Despite comprising the original lineup”. What? That WAS the original lineup which is the only reason I went. If you are refering to Sid not being there, he never was there. He is not on the album and from what I have read, barely played at any of the shows. He was an addin after Glen was fired. Glen is responsible for the Sex Pistols “sound” and although not as famous as Johnny, has gone on to do more musically then any of the rest. I thought it was a great show.

  15. Um, I know Doug. Maybe you misread. “Comprising” as in “consisting of” the original lineup. I am well aware that Vicious (Ritchie) was about useless aside from his notoriety. That’s why I wrote “despite” …