Anarchy in the USA The Sex Pistols 1978 Tour.
Thursday, January 5, 1978 Friday, January 6, 1978
Great Southeast Music Hall
The Sex Pistols played to about 500 people at their first American show. In attendance were fans, journalists, onlookers, and law enforcement agents. Future R.E.M. guitarist Peter Buck snuck into the concert, but was kicked out after only a few songs. Many in attendance had heard stories about British punk rock but were unfamiliar with the Sex Pistols themselves. There was a rumor that the band killed hamsters onstage, among other far-fetched suggestions. A good number of people expected grubby street punks with mohawks to walk onstage. Only Sid lived up to most people's expectations, and even he was relatively well-behaved tonight.
"I thought you were all cowboys down here," said Rotten as he waited for Steve to tune up. "Well my name's John, and this is the Sex Pistols." With that, the band ripped into "God Save the Queen," introducing the Georgia crowd to British punk. "See what kind of fine, upstanding youth England is chucking out these days?," Johnny said about himself and his band. "You can all stop staring at us now. We're ugly and we know it."
"Johnny Rotten's stare was demonic, his expression sneering, and his shoulders ominously hunched," reported Tony Schwartz in Newsweek. "Sid Vicious, pasty-skinned and anemic-looking, seemed more catatonic than cantankerous, rousing himself only to blow his nose stage right. Guitarist Steve Jones and drummer Paul Cook looked clean-cut enough to have played in the '50s style band that opened the show."
Overall, the first show of the tour was seen as a disappointment. Steve's guitar refused to stay in tune, and his playing was less than spectacular. Johnny sang most of lyrics during the wrong parts of the songs, and he occasionally resorted to muttering. During "Anarchy in the U.K.," he asked the audience, "Do any of you know the words?" The crowd also remained quite contolled, nothing compared to what was in store for the Pistols later in the tour. To some, the show represented exactly what punk was all about: raw and vulgar rock 'n' roll, played with plenty of volume and little musical skill. Others couldn't understand how this band spearheaded a musical revolution.
Set list: God Save the Queen, I Wanna Be Me, Seventeen, New York, Bodies, Submission, Holidays in the Sun, EMI, No Feelings, Problems, Pretty Vacant, Anarchy in the U.K.
Over 900 tickets were sold for the Memphis gig. Unfortunately, the ballroom's full capacity was only 725. A small riot ensued outside the venue when fans were denied seeing the Sex Pistols.
Sid went on a search for drugs hours before the band was supposed to play, and the show was delayed. When they did go on about 11 PM, the band gave an average show with minimal violence and verbal abuse. "I hear you all listen to Dolly Parton down here," John Rotten remarked. "Are you still celebrating Elvis's birthday?" During the show, audience members began throwing various objects onstage. Johnny responded: "I'm not here for your amusement, you're here for mine. So behave yourself and don't throw things at me. I don't like it."
Dave Schulps gave the performance a glowing review in Sounds. "The Sex Pistols gave what I consider one of the best rock 'n' roll shows I've ever seen. Most of the audience seemed to agree, reacting wildly to every move they made. Johnny Rotten leered manically into the mass before him and danced spasmodically, at times resembling a chimp swinging from vine to vine. Sid Vicious constantly spat on the stage and occasionally jumped up like a kewpie doll in shock treatment. A few shook their heads and left quietly. There was no violence. Not a single person was injured... or corrupted."
At the end of the show, a SWAT team invaded the ballroom to control any possible outbreaks of violence. Again, a relatively controlled show, downright tame compared to the next performance.
Interestingly enough, the Taliesyn Ballroom is now a Taco Bell.
Set list: God Save the Queen, I Wanna Be Me, Seventeen, New York, EMI, Bodies, Belsen Was a Gas, Submission, Holidays in the Sun, No Feelings, Problems, Pretty Vacant, Anarchy in the U.S.A., No Fun
Friday, January 6, 1978
Sunday, January 8, 1978
|On Sunday night, this former bowling alley was packed with 2,200 rowdy Texans waiting to see what this thing called "punk rock" was all about. The Sex Pistols broke the rule that "if you're gonna play in Texas, you gotta have a fiddle in the band." Both band and audience were prepared for war.|
The band gave their most spirited performance of the American tour in San Antonio. Johnny took the stage wearing a T-shirt depicting two homosexual cowboys, and Sid greeted the crowd with some very unkind remarks. The audience hurled anything onstage that they could get their hands on. Items of choice were spit, popcorn, beer cups, cans, hot dogs, whipped cream, bottles, and pies.
Steve and Paul did their best to hold the show together while Sid and Johnny took every possible opportunity to insult and infuriate the crowd. Sid removed his leather jacket to reveal "Gimme a Fix" scrawled on his chest. Johnny blew snot at the people in the front row, snarling and screaming his vocals the whole night. Steve promptly broke a string during the first number, and he later used his guitar as a weapon against threatening audience members.
The audience fought amongst themselves, and one heckler decided to go after the band. He started yelling at Johnny, but John ignored him. The heckler decided to antagonize the next easiest target, Sid. When Vicious was hit in the face with a can of beer, the man mocked him. During the last seconds of "New York," Sid unstrapped his bass and attempted to club him over the head, hitting a Warner executive instead. The lights went off and the show was delayed for several minutes.
As the Rodeo's manager took the stage and asked those in attendance to stop throwing things at the band, Steve attempted to tune his (and Sid's) guitar, producing an ominous drone. The crowd became restless. One burly-sounding man yelled, "Let's hear some rock 'n' roll!" Order was restored and the Pistols continued the set. After being escorted out of Randy's, the heckler said, "I don't like what they stand for. They are just sewer rats with guitars." Later in the show, Sid was hit hard enough to receive a bloody nose. With no demand for an encore, the band completed their set with "Anarchy in the U.S.A." and left the stage. Johnny Rotten topped off the evening by meeting with the local press and calling the audience members "statues."
The next day, the local paper read: "Sex Pistols win the San Antonio Shoot-Out."
Set list: God Save the Queen, I Wanna Be Me, Seventeen, New York, EMI, Holidays in the Sun, Bodies, Belsen Was a Gas, Submission, No Feelings, Problems, Pretty Vacant, Anarchy in the U.S.A.
Monday, January 9, 1978
|By the time they got to Baton Rouge, the Sex Pistols found themselves in a rut. How could they top the San Antonio Shoot-Out? They wouldn't come close tonight.|
The audience tonight was comprised mostly of college kids. Although there was still verbal warfare between the audience and the band, the performance at the Kingfish Club was much less assaultive than the show at Randy's the night before. Sid even got some play from a female fan during "New York."
Most of the audience seemed fairly interested in the Sex Pistols' music, and "EMI" even inspired a sing-along. Nonetheless, apathy plagued the band. Steve seemed particularly bored tonight, introducing the songs without a shred of enthusiasm. The put-downs exchanged between Sid and members of the crowd sounded forced. Instead of throwing food and trash, the audience threw money. After getting hit with a handful of coins, John said, "If you're gonna throw money, throw dollar bills." During the encores, Sid and Johnny collected over 15 dollars. After the Kingfish show, Steve expressed his frustration by refusing to travel with the band on the tour bus.
Set list: God Save the Queen, I Wanna Be Me, Seventeen, New York, EMI, Bodies, Belsen Was a Gas, Submission, Holidays in the Sun, No Feelings, Problems, Pretty Vacant, Anarchy in the U.S.A., No Fun, Liar
Tuesday, January 10, 1978
|"They said no one could be more bizarre than Alice Cooper, or more destructive than Kiss... they have not seen the Sex Pistols. Tuesday night, Stone City Attractions presents live, the Sex Pistols. Banned in their own home country, England's Sex Pistols, denied admittance to the United States, the Sex Pistols bring the new wave to the Metroplex this Tuesday night, in the Longhorn Ballroom. They said it couldn't happen, but it happens Tuesday night: the Sex Pistols, live." - Radio promo|
By this point in the tour, Sid Vicious, the least talented member of the band, was receiving most of the attention onstage. Other members of the band were getting fed up with his narcissistic attitude. Before the show, Steve threatened to punch him for focusing on himself and not the music. Sid hit the bottle hard before the show tonight. Being in Texas once again, he and Johnny found it appropriate to mock the "cowboys" in attendance. About half of the 1,800 in the crowd were fans, and the other half were country & western fans defending their territory against these British punks. There were also about 100 police on hand.
Tonight's performance was more of a circus than a rock show, a love-fest compared to the volatile San Antonio show. John wore an ugly pink shirt and a black glove for most of the show, while Steve wore all black, including boots, spurs, and a sheriff's star. With "Gimme a Fix" on his bare chest, Sid barely played his bass and seemed more interested in jumping around instead of performing music. Plastic cups and other assorted objects flew toward the stage for the duration of the performance. (No glass bottles were sold.) The show was all about spectacle; music was secondary.
At the end of "Holidays in the Sun," Sid got head-butted by a overzealous fan and received a bloody nose. Instead of wiping up the mess, he let the blood flow down his body, smearing it on his face and spitting it into the crowd. Johnny remarked, "Look at that... a living circus." During "Pretty Vacant," Sid took a broken bottle and vehemently carved his chest. Iggy would've been proud. He removed the pus-soaked bandage from his arm and threw it into the hapless crowd. The other band members continued the show. Although he contributed next to nothing musically, Sid knew he was stealing Johnny Rotten's limelight, which was more important to him at that point.
After a blistering version of "Anarchy in the U.S.A.," the band left the stage, and, surprisingly, the crowd yelled for more. As the band reappeared for an encore, Sid showed the audience an obscene gesture and Steve yelled, "You must be mad to want more of us!" In the middle of "No Fun," Steve confronted a heckler by throwing a couple punches and jabbing him with the headstock of his guitar.
The next morning, the Dallas newspaper read: "Most of the people last night came to see the people who came to see the Sex Pistols."
Set list: God Save the Queen, I Wanna Be Me, Seventeen, New York, EMI, Bodies, Belsen Was a Gas, Holidays in the Sun, No Feelings, Problems, Pretty Vacant, Anarchy in the U.S.A., No Fun
Thursday, January 12, 1978
|Arriving in snow-covered Tulsa, the band was clearly split into two groups: Steve and Paul, the true musicians in the band, and Johnny and Sid, the group's instigators. At the beginning of the tour, both John and Sid were determined to offend America any way they could, but the more Sid hogged the spotlight, the more John withdrew. Everyone expected John to outrage every American crowd he performed in front of, but, in true punk fashion, he defied the public's expectations. After the Longhorn fiasco, he had simply given up trying to shock the U.S.|
The band's show in Tulsa was picketed by 30 protestors including a Baptist pastor, who argued, "There is a Johnny Rotten inside each of us, and he doesn't need to be liberated, he needs to be crucified." There were no major brawls at the performance, and the audience of 600 was fairly enthusiastic. As always, objects were thrown at the band, various remarks were exchanged between band and audience, and Steve and Paul provided the group's musical foundation. Steve, obviously not concerned about being a "rock star," wore a heavy coat onstage (he was fighting a cold). Sid tried hitting an audience member with his bass as he did in San Antonio but was stopped by a roadie.
After the show, the band travelled to California for what would be their last performance together.
Set list: Not available
Saturday, January 14, 1978
|The Sex Pistols played in front of over 5,000 people at the Winterland Ballroom, more people than at all of their previous American dates put together. The audience was comprised of mostly hippies, with a few hundred punks in front, some of whom threw syringes onstage.|
The crowd was again enthusiastic, but the band was tired of performing and sick of each other, barely acknowledging each other's presence onstage. Greil Marcus said the following about the show in Rolling Stone: "The music was all bite: you could reach out and touch every jagged note. It was Steve Jones and Paul Cook who made the noise, and together they were likely the only great two-man band in the history of rock & roll. Spraying the crowd with spit, beer, and mucus, Sid Vicious looked like an English Charlie Starkweather. What was most surprising about Johnny Rotten was his intelligence: intelligence you could read most clearly in his eyes."
The All-Music Guide calls this show a "tuneless, tempoless onslaught," and that sums it up pretty effectively. The Sex Pistols didn't give birth to punk rock, but they pretty much killed it off tonight. Completely wasted, Sid was incoherent and barely able to stand. He opened the show with a couple of Ramones riffs; it turned out to be the best he could offer musically tonight. His playing was so off that it almost tripped up Steve and Paul several times. Steve's guitar cut out several times during the show, and the overall sound was very poor. "If you can put up with that, you can put up with anything," Johnny growled after "Seventeen." Out of nowhere, Steve added, "You f***ing bunch of cowboys!"
In the middle of "Belsen Was a Gas," Johnny let out a scream of horror as if he had just been informed that his mother was the Queen. "Do you want your ears blown out some more?," Johnny asked the crowd. After trudging through the intro to "Bodies," Steve and Paul raced through the song as if their lives depended on it, leaving Sid to senselessly pound his bass strings. During the home stretch of the song, Steve's guitar cut out, leaving Paul to attack his drum kit and Johnny to remark: "I'm not an animal, I'm an abortion," and, asking the audience in total honesty, "What does that make you?"
For the remainder of the show, John stood almost completely still and seemed to despise being on the stage. Throughout "Holidays in the Sun," he blew snot and coughed, and he sang the last half of "Problems" with his arms folded (Sid contributed an amusing moment when he introduced the song: "This is about YOU, it's called 'Problems,'" and fell flat on his back several seconds later). Vicious clutched his bass and seemed ready to hit an audience member again, but roadies took care of the problem before violence erupted. Sitting on the stage looking bored, Johnny said to the crowd, "Tell us, what's it like to have bad taste?" The band stumbled through "Anarchy in the U.S.A." without a bit of spirit, unravelling right in front of the crowd's eyes.
During the encore, "No Fun," John's voice finally gave out. By the end of the song, instead of singing, he sat on the stage, stared into the crowd blankly, and grumbled: "This is no fun, no fun, it is no fun at all, no fun." The band played on, finishing in complete shambles. When the noise ceased, Rotten uttered that famous line, "Ever get the feeling you've been cheated?," said goodnight, and walked offstage. In an instant, the Sex Pistols were over.
Set list: God Save the Queen, I Wanna Be Me, Seventeen, New York, EMI, Belsen Was a Gas, Bodies, Holidays in the Sun, Liar, No Feelings, Problems, Pretty Vacant, Anarchy in the U.S.A., No Fun
Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the artwork would like to thank Jeremy Frey, for allowing me to use the above information from his site 'Welcome to the Rodeo'.
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