Review: 31 July 1996 – Red Rocks Amphitheatre, Denver, Collorado, USA – Filthy Lucre Tour

First US Gig in 18 Years

The Sex Pistols took the stage Wed. night (July 31) at the Red Rocks Amphitheatre outside Denver in what was the group’s first performance on U.S. soil in some 18 years. Compared to the group’s outrageous performances during the late ’70s, the Red Rocks show was a tepid affair that found Rotten making use of an oxygen tank at times, according to a Reuters report.

Some 8,000 moslty young fans turned out to see a band that had broken up before the majority of them were born. The set, like the ones performed in Europe, was drawn almost entirely from the Pistols one studio album, Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols. The Pistol’s final ’70s show before disbanding took place in the U.S., at Winterland in San Francisco in January of 1978. When the group broke up nearly 20 years ago, it was a big deal. This time around, when the comeback tour is over and the four members go their separate ways, it will just be business as usual.

Reprinted from Addicted to Noise, August 1, 1996

US Launch In Colorado

By Judith Crosson

DENVER, July 31 (Reuter) – Anarchy came to America for the first time in more than 18 years Wednesday night when the reunited English punk band the Sex Pistols launched their U.S. tour at an outdoor arena. But age may be catching up with the once-outrageous band. Vocalist John Lydon, better known as Johnny Rotten, complained about the altitude and a stage hand even rolled an oxygen tank on the stage for Rotten’s use.

“You wouldn’t mind if I took another puff of that oxygen would you”? he asked the cheering, but civilized audience of 8,500. “I can’t sing in this altitude at all,” he complained of Denver’s mile-high altitude.

The mostly youthful audience of music fans turned up to see a band that had not played together in over 18 years. The group got back together earlier this year with the avowed aim of cashing in on the popularity of the punk genre they helped invent. Although they lasted for barely two years, the Sex Pistols left an indelible mark on pop culture, dragging the age-old concept of teenage rebellion into the gutter with a nihilistic passion that has been rarely matched since.

They swore on live television, did their best to ruin Queen Elizabeth’s silver jubilee, took the music industry for a ride and were banned everywhere. The band was such a volatile mix that their demise was inevitable. They only recorded one official album, 1977’s ”Never Mind the Bollocks – Here’s the Sex Pistols.” They entertained the audience with some of their best known songs, opening their concert with “Bodies,” the expletive- strewn song about a mad fan called Pauline. But the concert lacked the truly outrageous behavior that had become synonymous with the Pistols.

Rotten, 40, with spiked yellow and red hair, managed to snarl and taunt the audience, but the sarcasm did not ring bitter. When one member of the audience got onto to the stage for a moment, Rotten approved, saying “that’s more like it.” But if nostalgia was not a strong ingredient it may have been because many of the youthful attendees would have been too young to see the Pistols in their heyday. Nevertheless they seemed to enjoy other Pistols’ classics such as “Anarchy in the U.K.” and “God Save the Queen.”

One notable absentee from the proceedings was, of course Sid Vicious, the figurehead bass player who overdosed in 1979. The band, which just completed a tour of Britain and Europe, is playing 19 cities in North America before continuing their ”Filthy Lucre” tour in New Zealand, Australia and Japan.

From Reuters/Variety

The Once and Future Sex Pistols

A Must-See for all Pistols Fans (you might not get another chance until 2014)

The Sex Pistols played to a nearly-packed Red Rocks Amphitheater in Morrison, Colorado (west of Denver) Wednesday night. Apparently, ticket sales were not going too well; a few days before the concert, the ticket price was cut in half, and anyone already holding a full-price ticket was allowed to bring a friend for free.

Normally, Red Rocks allows concert-goers to bring in their own drinks in plastic thermoses and plastic bottles. We were advised at the entrance to the parking lot, however, that nothing was allowed inside that night. This restriction effectively lowered the audience’s rowdiness, and at the same time diminished their arsenal of projectiles. Opening for the Pistols were Gravity Kills, Reacharound, and Stabbing Westward. The fans (most of whom looked too young to be alive when the Pistols broke up in 1978) greeted the warm-up bands with the only thing available to throw at them: pages of the “Budweiser Summer of Stars” concert program that were ripped out and folded into paper airplanes.

When the Pistols were ready to come on stage, the wind had picked up, and the “Filthy Lucre” backdrop was whipping out of control. Stage hands took about 20 minutes pulling down the backdrop and two side banners. The red rocks of Red Rocks made a much more eye-appealing backdrop. When the Pistols finally began playing, the audience energized itself, and the paper airplanes flew no more.

They played the songs we all know, and the audience sang along. They sounded better live than dead.

John was wearing black pants with yellow stripes down the side, a yellow shirt, and red suspenders. His hair, standing straight up, was parted in the middle, with half dyed yellow, and the other half orange. Steve was wearing spandex, and his guitar strap said “SLAG”. Glen was wearing his leather jacket, and Paul in a t-shirt. John was having trouble with the altitude (7,500 ft?); he kept sneaking over to the side of the stage to breathe from an oxygen tank. Finally, he brought the oxygen tank out to the middle of the stage where he could have easy access to it. He tried to brush it off by saying, “Great invention, this oxygen thing. You [Denver] could use more of it.”

The audience had a great time, and John looked like he was having a good time as well. No more scowls and pent-up anger from the seventies. No mosh pit, and no spitting from the audience. This is a Sex Pistols concert? Well, everyone was flipping the band off, so I guess they must have seen the movie.

As the evening wore on, and the wind got stronger (and John complained that the wind wasn’t good for his hair), the audience renewed its interest in the paper airplanes. They quickly realized that the wind was too strong for the fragile airplanes, and that paper wads were much more effective. Soon afterwards, every available piece of garbage was being hurled on stage: paper wads, flattened 32 oz. paper Pepsi cups, those glow-in-the-dark necklaces that they sell in the concession stand, a blue bra of large cup size. Steve picked up the bra and put it on his head like earmuffs. When the band came back for the encore, Steve was shirtless and wearing the bra. During the encore, more than a few people rushed the stage, one by one. Security quickly subdued each one as they ran across the stage, but the crowd loved it; even John showed his approval by saying, “Now THAT’s more like it!”

Review Courtesy of Richard P Swenson

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