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The versions of these faves heard at Red Rocks were relentlessly de rigueur. The players came across as both competent and professional--terms that should not necessarily be viewed as purely complimentary in this context--and the tempos remained vigorous. Lydon, too, was in decent voice; he generally proved capable of making his nasal yelp heard over the foothills gusts. But these by-the-numbers readings lacked any attempt at commentary or contemporaneity. The Pistols' songs were like broadcasts from the war front when they first appeared, but they don't have nearly the same impact two decades down the line. "God Save the Queen," for one, is almost funny; after all, the only reason Lydon is chanting "no future" again is because he wants to ensure his own, financially speaking. "E.M.I.," a bitter rant about the label's mistreatment of the band, sounded even more ludicrous. Probably even the members of the band don't remember what this petty fight was about, but because they've got so little material, they churned it out anyway.

It wasn't easy for Lydon to do his part. A couple of ditties into the show, he moved to the side of the stage and took several deep pulls from a mask connected to an oxygen tank. One song later, he asked, "Would anyone mind if I had a bit more of that oxygen?" and returned to the man with the tank. Shortly thereafter, he actually dragged the contraption onto the stage, placing it beside Cook's drum kit. From that point on, he spent every free minute sucking down the precious gas, looking disturbingly like Dennis Hopper in Blue Velvet. Thank goodness the main body of the show was only about forty minutes long, or emergency personnel would have had to park him on a slab.

The brief encore provided even more unintended satire. As the Pistols roared into "Anarchy in the U.K.," a composition that's aged somewhat less well than, say, "The Ballad of the Green Berets," the entire crowd happily sang along with Johnny. As they did so, it suddenly became clear that there was no substantial difference between this concert and the efforts of other Seventies bands to convert their musical chestnuts into negotiable currency. It took twenty years, but Lydon, whose previous shtick was ostensibly intended to destroy the corporate rock of his era, has finally evolved into Glenn Frey.

Things weren't always so Rotten. When Lydon spoke with Westword in 1992, while on the road with PIL, he exhibited a healthy contempt for the brand of nostalgia that he's now peddling. In between rhapsodizing over his interest in marine biology and his fondness for soap operas ("I love Santa Barbara," he gushed), he took a shot at those who continued to pester him about the Pistols. "I think it's sad," he said. "I think that these people are totally blind, but frankly, I believe that most of our fans don't even know about that part of my life. Fully half of our audience has never heard of that. It's the writers that won't let it go. They can't move on. It's pathetic."

Truer words were never spoken.

This year's LoDo Music Festival was the most poorly attended yet, and it doesn't take a mathematician to figure out why: The lineup was notably weak. Perhaps organizers figured that the event had established itself so well that money could be saved on talent fees. They were wrong: The modest crowd wandering the streets on Saturday, August 3 (the night I attended), seemed notably bored by the likes of Johnny Clegg and Juluka and Joan Baez. (Best set I saw: Luther Allison's.) Also, organizational aspects seemed notably slack; I left the concert zone briefly through an unattended security station, then was refused readmittance by brain-dead staffers because no one had stamped my wrist. (I was told my ticket stub wasn't good enough because "some forgeries" had turned up.) Despite the prolonged hassle that resulted, I still want the Music Fest to survive. I'd just like it to be better.

Hollywood, here they come. "Deliver Me," the lead track on the new Foreskin 500 album Starbent But Superfreaked (available now on the Priority imprint), is featured prominently in The Fan, the soon-to-be-released film starring Robert De Niro and Wesley Snipes. According to label sources, the tune plays for a full three minutes in the background of a scene at a strip club. Anyone at the Boulder rave party in March at which lead Foreskinner Diggie Diamond took it all off for an excited throng will understand just how appropriate this is.

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts