It’s not every day you get to see one of the Sex Pistols play in a small bar in Adelaide. Friday was that night.
Glen Matlock was the original bass player in The Sex Pistols co-writing ten out of the twelve songs on Never Mind The Bollocks and playing the bass on the whole thing. He left in early 1977, one line of reason was that the others discovered he liked the Beatles, although this story is likely to have been a bit of media cannon fodder from manager Malcolm McLaren (and besides he preferred The Small Faces). He was replaced by Sid Vicious, who wile he became a punk rock icon, couldn’t actually play (Matlock even gave him lessons at one point). After the Pistols he was is a terrific New Wave / Power Pop band called The Rich Kids. With Midge Ure (formerly of Slik, and soon to be fronting Ultravox, Rusty Egan (who went on to be in Visage and a successful DJ and producer) and Steve New who (when he was 15) was in the Pistols before they were known, and was later in the early version of Generation X with Billy Idol and toured with Iggy Pop (during which he famously assaulted David Bowie).
Matlock has been in a bunch of ‘supergroups too. The brilliantly named Dead Men Walking (with Pete Wylie from Wah!, Kirk Brandon from Spear of Destiny and Mike Peters from The Alarm) and Slinky Vagabond with Blondie’s Clem Burke and Earl Slick from Bowie’s band. More recently we had The International Swingers, again with Burke, James Stevenson (Gen X, Gene Loves Jezebel and Gary Twin (from Aussie 70s band Supernaut). LAst time he was in Australia the drummer was Slim Jim Phantom from The Stray Cats. He has recorded about half a dozen solo albums as well as playing on an album by The Damned and being a member of the reformed Faces.
So I say all this to point out there is more to this guy than one album (albeit an admittedly iconic) a punk rock record from forty years ago. However, it would be naive to think any large part of the audience was there because of the Rich Kids record (great though it is).
Matlock has a pick up band of Aussie musicians (a couple of guys from The Strays included) who provide a tight and fat sound. Glen is silver haired these days and sporting a ‘spiv’ moustache, making him look a bit like an older London gangster. The guy clearly loves to play music. He enjoys being on stage and interacting with the audience. But tonight is a no nonsense affair. No airs and graces. It’s about a being a working musician, doing his job of playing rock and roll, with no over inflated self importance about past accomplishments.
They open with Don’t Put The Brakes on Tonight, written for Iggy Pop’s 1981 album Party, but didn’t make the final cut. It’s a great song and top start. Open Mind was the title track from the 2001 CD from Glen Matlock & The Philistines. He mentions that he “…used to be in The Sex Pistols,” and a huge cheer goes up, “…well after the Pistols I had a band called The Rich Kids and this is a song off that album”. They scorch through Burning Sounds, which is good news for me, but a few guys near by look a bit disappointed. Not for long though as God Save The Queen is next. It is slowed down, not as frantic, as the version we are used to, but affords everybody the chance for a sing song.
There are some slightly confused that Matlock isn’t playing bass, rather using a semi acoustic for much of the set, and most don’t know him as a singer. There are songs people are not familiar with, Hook in You, Don’t Give a Damn, but then there is Ambition written by Glen, for Iggy’s Soldier album in 1980. A great take on David Bowie’s John, I’m Only Dancing, leads into a possibly improvised (it wasn’t on the set list) version of T Rex’s I Love To Boogie. It’s a bit wobbly, but heaps of fun. Sexy Beast is a new track released on an EP earlier this year, which also features John I’m Only Dancing, Happy by Pharrell Williams and Richard Hells Blank Generation. Which is the next song in the set. So, things are motoring along. Songs we know, songs some of us know. Couple of bluesy numbers, lot’s of energy. Steppin’ Stone, was written by Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart originally for Paul Revere & The Raiders in May 1966. Six months later a version by The Monkees became the definitive version, but it has been covered by hundreds of bands the world over in many styles. After The Sex Pistols did a version, that became a new template for dozens of punk versions. Matlock and Co deliver a great version tonight.
Born Running is a mid paced rocker and the title track from his 2010 CD. The set finishes up with Pretty Vacant and the audience is Pretty Bloody Happy. It’s not as snarly and angry but is has great energy and we all sing at the top of out lungs and Glen facilitates this with a Sing-a-Long-With-Glen bit, which is terrific.
Working out that getting off the stage through the crowd is more hassle than it’s worth, they give us a two song encore. Another bluesy original Keep on Pushin’ and a rousing run through of All or Nothing by his beloved Small Faces.
Going to see Glen Matlock is absolutely NOT like going to see The Glen Matlock Sex Pistols Show. It’s a great little band, and he has some significant music history which he dances us through. It’s rock’n’roll as it should be, straight ahead, true to itself, nods to the past given when appropriate, something old, something new. It’s a great night out and perfect in Enigma Bar.
After the show Matlock was out at the Merch desk, doing selfies and signing Pistols records, and my Rich Kids album.
Review by Ian Bell
Don’t Put The Brakes On Tonight (Iggy Pop)
Open Mind Burning Sounds (Rich Kids)
God Save The Queen (Sex Pistols)
Hook In You Don’t Give a Damn
Ambition (Iggy Pop)
John I’m Only Dancing (Bowie cover)
I Love To Boogie (T Rex cover)
Wanderlust Sexy Beast Blank Generation (Richard Hell cover)
Steppin’ Stone (Paul Revere & The Raiders/Monkees cover)
Born Running Pretty Vacant (Sex Pistols)
Keep on Pushin’
All or Nothing (Small Face cover)