Anger is an Energy – John Lydon

This is an autobiography of John Lydon, also known to many as Johnny Rotten of the Sex Pistols.

I will admit to being hugely influenced by punk whilst not really being old enough to be a proper punk.  I will also admit to enjoying the music of the Sex Pistols; I love the raw energy of the music and Anarchy is one of the tracks on my running playlist.

John Lydon must be one of the most interesting characters in the music business.  He always has something to say and, whilst I often don’t agree with what he says, I admire him for his conviction.

I was expecting this book to reflect the anger and energy Lydon often shows in public.  What I got was something that didn’t quite achieve those heights.

What surprised me most of all was how ordinary and conventional a lot of Lydon’s life has been and is.  Given the Pistol’s image it is almost shocking to find their frontman a happily married man!  And up to the age of 7 he had an ordinary, if poor, upbringing.

I found the part about Lydon’s fight with spinal meningitis eye opening.  It isn’t something I know much about and I can’t image how horrific it must be to experience such an illness.  And illness seems such a mild term for such a vicious thing.  I think understanding that essentially John Lydon, as we see him now, only began life aged 7 after his memory was wiped by meningitis.  I can almost imagine how terrifying it must be trying to cling on to what you are now learning to make sure you don’t lose it all again.  I can imagine how that would propel you into wanting to learn and learn and learn; to fill the blanks and to create new memories.  I think it puts Lydon into context and makes some of the incomprehensible visible.

I think this book is an odd mix of the really interesting and the really dull.  It took me ages to read it because there were parts that just didn’t really interest me; the extraneous detail you tend to get in autobiographies that would be covered in less detail in a biography.  Other parts of the book wiz along, giving a good Johnny Rotten/John Lydon-centric view of life in the Sex Pistols and PiL.

Overall, I’m pleased I read this book.  I enjoyed finding out more about John Lydon the person behind the Johnny Rotten and John Lydon-frontman personas.  Would I recommend it?  Yes, as long you have patience to get through some dull bits and someone to sound off at when Lydon goes off on one of his rants!

Evita – Grand Opera House York

It’s ages since I last saw Evita and I probably wouldn’t have gone this time if my aunt and cousin hadn’t said they would like to go.

As a musical it’s always an enjoyable experience; I come out of the theatre humming the songs and usually end up with a medley of them as an earworm for weeks.  As someone who is interested in people and in history I wonder why Lloyd-Webber and Rice chose to create a musical around a manipulative woman, a dictator and a revolutionary; should we really be glamourising them?

I don’t think the stage set for the musical has changed much since I first saw it back in the late 1970s/early 80s although technology has enabled the set to be less static.  I like the setting.  The simplicity of it allows the actors to tell the story and means the story moves on at a decent pace with little waiting for scenery to move.

I thought Kevin Stephen-Jones was well cast as Juan Peron.  He was credible as a middle-aged General attracted by the young “actress” half his age; and as someone just good enough to have risen through the ranks but who needed the drive of his young wife to push him up the next rung of the ladder.

Gian Marco Schiaretti, as Che, had a beautiful voice and a well honed body but his acting skills were not up to the job.  At various points he was standing one stage looking like the brainless narcissists you see in a gym admiring their reflections in the mirror.  I suspect he thought he was looking strong and manly but it just looked wooden.

Emma Hatton sang a very good Evita and acted the relationship with Peron well; it was believable that it was a mutually beneficial business relationship rather than a love match.  Where I think she fell down was in acting Eva’s ambition.  I didn’t feel there was any drive behind Eva’s determination to escape the humiliation of her illegitimacy in her home town or the ruthless drive to succeed at any cost when she arrived in Buenos Aires.

The rest of the cast were competent without anyone standing out.

Am I pleased I went?  Yes.  Do I still have an Evita soundtrack earworm still stuck well and truly in my head?  Yes.  Would I rush back to see it again?  No.  But if someone asked me to go with them again I’d happily agree, knowing I would have an enjoyable evening.

Click for details of AGT touring production of Evita

Click here to find out more about Eva Duarte Peron