Never Mind the Baubles
The Julian Temple documentary on the Sex Pistols’ Christmas gig was such a joy.
The footage of the band performing was incredible. I am assuming it was just one camera, and the room wasn’t exactly set up with fancy lights to help out. Yet it conveyed how great the band were, full on, strong songs, and so much personality.
What really came across in the documentary was the humanity. Simple as that. And as silly as it may sound, I found that a very inspiring Christmas message.
Here was one band, hated by many in Britain, banned from even entering Scotland by all accounts, and sadly despite the headline in the Limerick Leader newspaper, a band that never came to Ireland in their original incarnation. It is interesting to think how many musicians were inspired to join a band following the electric shock that the band transmitted.
Here were found pretty ordinary guys, albeit ones with various neuroses and flaws just as you would expect in any young band. It is amazing to think how short their career was, how bumpy the ride, how unlikely they would produce such great music…and yet they did.
Here was that band of ‘public enemies’ according to politicians and self-appointed moral guardians, playing two benefit gigs for striking firemen and their families in Huddersfield.
John Lydon aka Johnny Rotten came across the best, naturally. He had charisma and a very sharp mind that wasn’t always highlighted in the tumultuous times the band lived in. The scenes of him dancing with the kids at the afternoon gig, playing cake-fights with them, getting them involved in sing-a-longs were great to see. I came away from watching with a better appreciation of Steve Jones from his interviews here. What a sad young man he was at the time of the Sex Pistols. I admire his honesty at how he was able to look back on his youthful self. It was sad to hear how much he disliked Christmas as he felt so sad and lonely at those times. It makes you think how people we assume are having fun, may be just the opposite.
Another great element of the documentary was the footage of the young people who attended the gigs. The cheery chap whose friend got him into the gig because his dad was a firefighter was great to watch. It was funny at the end when it was revealed how this punk-loving youth who remembered the day with such joy, is now a policeman.
The other great interview was with two lads who had walked to Huddersfield on Christmas Day for the gig all those years ago. It was 9 miles away. Yet they wanted to make the journey to see the Pistols. And when they got there…the gig was sold out. All was not lost and Malcolm McLaren, the eccentric who put the band together in the first place, insisted the band would not play unless the punks on their pilgrimage were admitted.
And that is what you call a Happy Christmas.
God Bless the Punks.
And my wish for the new year is a stronger more caring society. We can do it.
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Wild Hearted Outsider