‘Uncle Johnny’ brings the party to Preston - SLIDESHOW

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Former Sex Pistols singer John Lydon - ex-stage name Johnny Rotten - finally brought the party to Preston.

When interviewed recently by the Lancashire Evening Post, John Lydon described Preston as “a good place to go through on the way to somewhere else”.

Lydon: 'My body and mind is the Sex Pistols but my heart and soul is PiL'

Lydon: 'My body and mind is the Sex Pistols but my heart and soul is PiL'

Until now, this city has, almost without exception, been simply a change of trains on the way to “some mad party” somewhere else for the former Sex Pistol.

Tickets still exist for the Pistols, pre-sid Vicious, at the Charter Theatre on December 10, 1976 on their chaotic Anarchy in the uK tour, but the show, like all but a handful of dates on that tour, was cancelled in the furore following their now-legendary TV interview with Bill Grundy.

Lydon did make it here with Public Image Limited, just over quarter of a century ago in spring 1986, but he’s been passing through ever since; saddled by record company debt, it has taken him many of those subsequent years, and a Country Life butter advert, to free PiL from their financial bind.

Even when he finally shook off the shackles in 2009, the reunion was derailed in the saddest way possible – by the death of his stepdaughter, fellow punk icon, Ari Up of The slits.

Instead of taking PiL back into the studio, John retreated to care for his grief-stricken wife, nora, declaring that he “couldn’t leave her alone with this”.

Now, almost two years on, grief has receded enough to allow him to pick it up again.

And finally, on Tuesday night, he brought the party to Preston.

Lydon himself says: “My body and mind is the Sex Pistols but my heart and soul is PiL.”

And his heart was on his sleeve as they opened with the song that started it all, debut single Public Image, Lydon’s venomous rant at former Pistols manager Malcolm McLaren.

All of PiL’s greatest moments were here, from 1983 single This is not a Love song to Flowers of Romance, and there were plenty of gems from arguably their finest album, the ground-breaking Metal Box, the biggest moment being Death Disco, written about Lydon’s mother’s death.

Almost all Preston’s generations were there, with more than a smattering of faces from the Warehouse, and even long-gone club Clouds.

The problem was that many are a bit too old to pogo these days and their immobility perplexed Lydon.

He told them over the mic: “You’re a strange crowd. It’s almost like you’re frightened of me.

“But I’m your uncle Johnny, I’m one of you.”

One unfortunate soul, who dared to throw a pint at him during encore opener Memories, found he had cause to be afraid as Lydon lectured him furiously and unprintably from the stage.

But before long, all was forgiven as he closed with a furious version of Rise, followed by his collaboration with Leftfield, the transcendental open up.

And when, in the closing moments, he changed the chorus to “burn, Preston, burn”, you suspect he was probably only joking.