Best Concert - 2013
Public Image Ltd
Who would have thought the once-bratty Johnny Rotten (né John Lydon) of the pioneering mid-'70s UK punk band the Sex Pistols would front a follow-up group that would still have any sort of creative verve in the following millennium? Yet when Public Image Ltd took the stage at Miami's Grand Central last October, they put on a brilliant, vital show with musicianship and social consciousness to boot that would shame most hipster acts of today. Many a young musician could learn something from PiL. For aged punks/postpunkers, the talent onstage was consistently impressive, and — in an even rarer move for Miami shows — they started right on time. Guitarist Lu Edmonds occasionally played an electric saz (a Middle Eastern stringed instrument) and shone during songs that never lost their unrelenting groove. Lydon's voice shifted and morphed from warbles to buzz-saw growls and barks across many a meandering song, including back-catalogue highlights such as "This Is Not a Love Song" and "U.S.L.S. 1" to brand-new numbers like "Reggie Song." The audience, which ranged from late-'70s punks to kids who grew up in the '90s MTV alternative nation, mostly nodded along, though an even older crowd managed to pogo for a few minutes at a time. Aging legs in the crowd or not, PiL barreled through a two-hour set as a brilliantly preserved relic with nothing to prove. They were skilled, mature musicians putting on an earnest show for a crowd more interested in the music than making an appearance on the scene. In the Magic City, that's a rare achievement indeed.