For the first time ever, the cult group Public Image Ltd. (PiL) are visiting Ukraine as part of their wider European tour, which also brings PiL to Poland, Slovakia, Germany, Spain and the UK. It is highly symbolic that this historic event should take place just a few weeks after the 30-year anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster in 1986. That event, among others, led to the crumbling of the Soviet Union, which gave way to an independent Ukraine and the cultural freedom that led to the emergence of a DIY underground ethos among musicians in this former Soviet republic.
Joining PiL in concert are Braty Gadiukiny, who are considered legends of Ukrainian rock and numbered among a handful of bands that laid the foundation for a thriving independent music scene in this county from the days when playing rock and roll was finally permissable under Gorbachev’s policy of Glasnost’.
Here Ukrainian rock legends meet British post-punk legends, playing two concerts together – in Kyiv and Kharkiv. While the two propound distinctly different genres of music, they are similar in many respects. They both started playing back in the ’80s, survived the crisis-ladedn 90s, and skillfully weave elements of other musical genres into their music, including reggae and ska. With their intersecting styles, their music has come to shape the musical tastes of several generations.
“We have never played punk rock in its purest form,” explains Braty Gadiukiny. “Like PIL, we are constantly in a state of evolving music. We think John Lydon has excellent musical taste. We hope that we will have the opportunity to speak with him on the subject of revolution and evolution.”
PiL was founded in 1978 by vocalist of the legendary Sex Pistols, John Lydon, better known as Johnny Rotten, after the Sex Pistols disbanded. That same year, the group released their debut album ‘Public Image: First Issue’, considered to be one of the first post-punk releases. The second release ‘Metal Box’ was listed among the “500 greatest albums of all time,” according to Rolling Stone magazine. Their early work is often regarded as some of the most challenging and innovative music of the post-punk era. The NME described PiL as “arguably the first post-rock group”
PiL was originally comprised of John Lydon, guitarist Keith Levene, bassist Jah Wobble, and drummer Jim Walker. While band members have changed over the years, Lydon has been the sole constant member. The band returned to the stage in 2009 after a long break, during which John Lydon released a solo album and memoir ‘Anger Is an Energy’. PiL released their latest album ‘What The World Needs Now’ in September 2015. This current tour is taking place in support of this album.
While mainly active between 1988 and 1996, they continued to play live, including performances for the likes of then Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko. The band’s frontman Serhiy Kuzminskyi died in 2009, with bands like Vopli Vidoplyasova and Okean Elzy paying tribute. The band has since reformed and, in 2014, released their first album since 1996.
In light of the difficult period that Ukraine is experiencing, PiL is cooperating with The Ukrainian Concert Agency, who has organized these events, to carry out a charitable action for war veterans to attend the concert free of charge.
PiL plays Kyiv’s Club Atlas on Friday, May 20 and Kharkiv’s Cinema Concert Hall (KKZ) on Saturday, May 21.
Check out Public Image Ltd’s website to find out more!