Sex Pistols Hit the Jackpot at Only U.S. Stop on Summer Tour

June 9, 2008 2:09 PM ET

The social ironies of the Sex Pistols showing up in a Vegas casino for a concert were all confronted the last time the band played the Hard Rock, home of the Sid Vicious slot machine, a few years ago. Now, the Sex Pistols are another reunited oldies act: just more self-aware and ironic than, say, Duran Duran.

Photos from the Sex Pistols' Vegas gig.

Of course, many still seemed surprised that the Pistols would pick Vegas for their one and only U.S. stop on their 2008 summer tour. But really, what place could be more perfect? At one point a block of the sold-out audience was crushed back by security so a local power couple — MMA fighter Tito Ortiz and adult-film legend Jenna Jameson — could cut in front and have a private elevator ride to their exclusive seats without mixing with the plebes who bought tickets. Why wouldn't these Vegas characters, the ultimate embodiments of the crass commercialization of violence and sex that the Pistols predicted in 1977, deserve special treatment in a city that worships the shallow and famous? As Johnny Rotten's first words declared upon taking the stage, there was fellowship between the band and audience: "You know who we are, hello, Las Vain-gas."

With that, the Pistols launched into a part lounge, part ska take on "Pretty Vacant" before delivering the familiar attack. During their various reunions the Pistols have proven that they can deliver a taut and in-your-face rock concert. The band still does blowing through a set made up of their infamous disc, assorted singles and covers including the odd choice like Hawkwind's "Silver Machine."

Johnny Rotten, however, seemed more John Lydon this night. The fierce growl delivered on his Pistols recordings has been replaced by the higher, whinier blast he brought to Public Image, Ltd. Still, songs like "Seventeen," "Bodies," "Holiday in the Sun" and "Anarchy in the U.K." have held up far better than any of the social causes that inspired those tunes in the first place.

To read the new issue of Rolling Stone online, plus the entire RS archive: Click Here

Music Main Next
Around the Web
Powered By ZergNet
Daily Newsletter

Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
marketing partners.


We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

Song Stories

“Bird on a Wire”

Leonard Cohen | 1969

While living on the Greek island of Hydra, Cohen was battling a lingering depression when his girlfriend handed him a guitar and suggested he play something. After spotting a bird on a telephone wire, Cohen wrote this prayer-like song of guilt. First recorded by Judy Collins, it would be performed numerous times by artists incuding Johnny Cash, Joe Cocker and Rita Coolidge. "I'm always knocked out when I hear my songs covered or used in some situation," Cohen told Rolling Stone. "I've never gotten over the fact that people out there like my music."

More Song Stories entries »