JOHNNY LEAVES HIS HEART IN FINSBURY PARK

Barry Cain reports on the start of the Sex Pistols’ American tour – from Record Mirror, 14th January, 1978

SEX PISTOLS
Atlanta, Georgia

“Hullo my name’s John and this is the Sex Pistols.”

Atlanta, Georgia. The Great South-East Music Hall. Redneck City welcomes punk city slobs. The opening night of the Pistols’ American tour and the southern weirdos are out in force along with the vice-squad.

Nobody quite knows what to expect. There are queues of people outside in the rain taking shelter in the shopping precinct doorways. There’s no way they’re gonna get in. Curiosity, fried chicken style, sold out the tickets weeks in advance. About the best these southern zeros can hope for is a raid.

“Hullo, my name’s John and this is the Sex Pistols” and into ‘God Save The Queen’.

And so the band belly flopped into one of the worst gigs they have ever played. It was bad, I mean crapola. Rotten, in tails (minus top hat) left his heart in Finsbury Park. His voice has never been so flat. Steve Jones’ guitar is mercilessly out of tune. The timing on nearly every song is hopelessly out.

‘I Wanna Be Me’ follows which Rotten claims is the new British National Anthem. “Forget about staring at us and just start dancing. Have some fun, we’re all ugly. We know that.” Rotten book of quotes number 134.

By the third number, ‘I’m A Lazy Sod’. Vicious slips out of his leather jacket revealing his Bullworker body. America doesn’t seem to agree with him. Hell, life doesn’t seem to agree with him.

“See the fine upstanding young men Britain’s chucking out these days.” Quote number 289. The men from Atlanta reserve spitting. For special occasions – like baccy chewing. So they’re content to throw plastic cups and rolled up bits of paper.
And a lot of them are too drunk to appreciate the sheer amateurism of the band. It’s impossible to gauge reaction from this crowd – too full of journalists.

“Aren’t we the worst thing you’ve ever seen?” queries Rotten. The Atlanta crowd cheer – though they can’t understand what he’s saying anyway.

The band fumble through the rest of the set finishing on song number 12 – ‘Anarchy In The UK’ or US of A as Rotten’s trashcan intonation dwells on the A-A-A-A.

There was no encore.

Sid Vicious in airport waiting lounge next day – “We were terrible last night.” Point taken. Now if y’all wanna hear more of this, toon in next week. Same grime, same flannel. Y’all hear now.

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