Sex Pistols Halloween Gig + Sex Pistols Gear Guide
Here’s an interesting article about yeat another Sex Pistols comeback gig. Quite interesting. And, since they were celebrating the 30th anniversary of “Nevermind The Bollocks”, we’ll include a Sex Pistols gear guide in the end. Enjoy!
The Sex Pistols continued their latest unlikely renaissance with a Halloween appearance on CBS’ Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, ostensibly to promote the 30th anniversary reissue of Never Mind the Bollocks and an even more improbable development, namely the re-recorded versions of “Anarchy in the UK” and “Pretty Vacant” that are featured on Activision’s Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock. Ferguson reportedly lobbied hard to have the band, whom he was a rabid fan of in his Scottish youth, appear on the show.
Indeed, Ferguson’s since become fast friends with Pistols guitarist-cum-America’s hippest disc jockey Steve Jones, and the pair have used their mutual media platforms to occasionally indulge in varying degrees of on-air silliness. Craig’s been a semi-regular guest on Indie 103.1’s Jonesy’s Jukebox, while Steve made a series of short Steve Jones’ Diary segments for Ferguson’s late night show, where the Pistols’ guitarist was seen sprawled out on a bed in boxer shorts, undershirt and fuzzy slippers, scribbling his intimate—and decidedly wacked-out—thoughts like a teenaged girl.
After a long, occasionally spirited warm-up session that’s a fixture of virtually every TV program recorded before a live audience, the Sex Pistols ambled onstage first to perform. Wearing a ripped yellow T-shirt emblazoned with the “Pretty Vacant” single cover artwork over a flowing white shirt, John Lydon mugged happily before the show’s 113 guests who, truth be told, needed little warming up Halloween afternoon. As they stood and cheered loudly, a black motorcycle jacketed Steve Jones strapped on his trademark, pin-up girl decaled off-white Les Paul Custom while drummer Paul Cook and a shimmering green-suited Glen Matlock, the band’s original pre-Sid bassist, took their places. Wasting no time, Jonesy kicked into the chiming opening riff of “Pretty Vacant,” while Lydon twitched with nervous energy and the potent Cook/Matlock rhythm section rumbled to life.
If the performance wasn’t exactly vintage 1977, it was a far cry from the safe, manufactured pop of contemporary chart icons like Justin Timberlake, who would become the target of a series of ongoing comic jabs throughout the show. Lydon, still punk’s supreme showman, variously paced like a caged hyena, emphasized the last syllable of “va-cant” with typically naughty glee, baring his now-considerable belly and rubbing it salaciously like a stripper, then ripping off his T-shirt and engaging in a little nipple-play for good measure. As the final chord echoed through the studio, he stuck out his paunch to proudly proclaim, “Fat is the new slim!”
After the song roared to a close and the cameras switched off, the grinning Lydon stepped up to the lip of the audience to announce, “Better watch out, I’m a (adjective) American now!” then gleefully darted back to his dressing room. As aired, the band was introduced by a pre-recorded intro Ferguson friend/noted actor/Pistols fan Kenneth Branagh, intoning mock Masterpiece Theater puffery, before admitting we all knew the band was a load of crap.
The band’s equipment was quickly moved offstage, and Ferguson’s desk rolled back into place for the next segment, an interview with Lydon and Jones in which the quick-witted host seemed decidedly intimidated and occasionally at an uncharacteristic loss for words. John promptly announced, “I’m fat, fifty and proud!,” quickly deflating a wealth of overwrought punk clichés in the bargain. A bad flu rendered Steve a virtual mute and a bit hard of hearing as well, a situation all used to good comic effect, shouting the repeated questions at each other like some lost scene from a Marx Brothers movie.
Much to Ferguson’s nervous chagrin, Lydon dwelled on his displeasure with the band’s Leno appearance the night before, during which they were apparently warned certain subjects were taboo, specifically the war in Iraq. John mimed a Hitler moustache with a crooked finger and flashed a couple Nazi salutes, intoning in an accent “Don’t talk about the Var!” to make his point.
He also opined it was time to bring the troops home, which brought another loud cheer from the studio audience and told the nervous Ferguson that the Pistols’ trademark honesty was actually a tonic for the times. In the aftermath the host seemed variously elated, nervous and shell-shocked.
SEX PISTOLS GEAR GUIDE
The Sex Pistols sound is one of the holy grails of rock. Kurt Cobain used to say that “Nevermind The Bollocks” was the best sounding rock album ever. Some might disagree, but it certainly still sounds powerful today, and the Steve Jones sound still inspires many players.
In the early Pistols days in London (1975-6) Steve was using a white Gibson Les Paul Custom and a Twin Reverb with ‘Guitar Hero’ sprayed on the grille cloth. The LP belonged to Sylvain Sylvain of The New York Dolls, who gave it to Malcolm McLaren to take to London for him so that Syl could come to the UK to join the band Malcolm promised to have ready for him. Instead, McLaren gave it to Steve and formed the Pistols. (read Steve Jones interview here)
If the price tag of a Gibson is too dear, try the Epiphone Les Paul Custom, which is one of the most popular Epis. For a good reason – it’s excellent!
Steve was an accomplished burglar in his youth, and some of the mics from the Pistols’ PA system were nicked from Hammersmith Odeon after Bowie’s first farewell gig with The Spiders From Mars in 1973. The Twin allegedly came from Ron Wood’s house!!!
The trick, is to make sure the mids in the amp are all the way up, and use the bridge pickup of the Les Paul Custom. Keep it bright and agressive.
He also used a MXR Distortion+ pedal. It’s a great pedal, which has been used by players such as Randy Rhoads, Kurt Cobain (early on, briefly), Bob Mould in Husker Du…and others. To get the Steve Jones tone, you probably won’t need much distortion…just a little bit, to give an extra kick. The Fender valve amp will do most of the job.