Get Pissed, Destroy (Or Eat Cake): The Sex Pistols’ Final UK Gigs, Christmas 1977.
Above Photo: John Lydon sings with Christmas cake plastered all over his head (Screenshot).
On Christmas Day 1977, the Sex Pistols played two shows at Ivanhoe’s nightclub in Huddersfield. At the time they were banned in towns and cities across the UK as their (media) reputation preceded them, but in Huddersfield they’d been welcomed.
Incredibly, in the afternoon of Christmas Day, the band played a matinee gig for for the children of striking firemen, laid-off workers and one-parent families. At this gig the Sex Pistols laid on Christmas treats, a huge cake for the children and they gave away T-shirts, badges, Never Mind The Bollocks albums and even skateboards as Christmas presents.
This childrens’ party gig, and one that night for adults in the same club, were the last Sex Pistols gigs in the UK before they flew to the US for their ill-fated tour, when they spectacularly imploded.
I recently came across a You Tube video, shot by Julian Temple, of these final two gigs, which I have put a link to below. It contains some of the best live footage I’ve ever seen of the Sex Pistols, and the sheer incongruity of them putting on a gig at a Christmas party for kids, interacting with them and clearly enjoying being there is striking.
There was also a massive cake fight, which John Lydon recalls fondly.
One of the high spots in the video is some moronic Councillor from Birmingham, called Edward Hanson, personifying the idiotic knee-jerk opposition to the band by small-minded local officials.
Lydon is interviewed throughout and he makes some cogent comments about the early power of Rupert Murdoch’s press as it went into hysterical overdrive, smearing the band for all kinds of rubbish.
The video also made me laugh when I saw they were playing ‘Bodies’ to the children (anyone familiar with the lyrics will know why) – although they did change the chorus!
There are also some great John Lydon quotes. When talking about Sid Vicious: “How can you be tough with a Christmas cake in your face?”
The footage of them playing ‘New York’ is fantastic and gave me a long shiver of Nostalgia as I watched it. There are also great live versions of EMI, Problem and Anarchy in the UK.
There are some interesting comments from the other band members who were watching the footage, including very poignant comments from guitarist Steve Jones about his mental state back then as a 21/22 year old: “It might have looked like I was having a good time…but I get glimpses of how unhappy I was back then…I had no tools on how to live, and no education.”
Lydon said about the childrens’ party: “That gig made me feel like I’d actually achieved something.”
Three weeks later, it was all over for the band as they disintegrated on their American tour, but you get no sense of that imminent split from the video of the gigs at all. They are completely on top of their game.
Julian Temple, who shot the video, said: “The sound with just one camera is raw and searing. I hope kids watching it today will go: ‘Fuck me, bands like that just don’t exist.'”
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This is the You Tube link with some fantastic footage – musically and historically.