Sunday, 29 December 2013

Never Mind The Baubles: Xmas '77 With The Sex Pistols

Did you see 'Never Mind The Baubles' on Boxing Day on BBC2? It's a one hour documentary about the Sex Pistols' last UK gig on Christmas Day in 1977 in aid of striking firemen in Huddersfield. An afternoon gig for the children of the town and the evening was for the adults filmed by Julien Temple. You'd never guess from this film that the band imploded a matter of weeks later in San Francisco.

It's as much a film about Christmas's past and the '70s as it is about the Pistols. The mainly black and white footage looking back onto what I always recall as a black and white world, the politics and the strikes and the furore around four lads in their early 20s who were now the scourge of the country. I recall the television news articles at the time showing churches and local politicians demanding that the Pistols weren't allowed to play in their town. This is, of course, well documented in Julien Temple's film, 'The Filth and The Fury'. It seems astonishing these days that a bunch of scruffy lads with guitars could be public enemy Number 1 but that's what happened.

So what on earth were they doing on Christmas Day hosting a party and playing a gig for a bunch of Yorkshire kids?

From the more recent interviews with John, Steve and Paul about the gig, it seems they were just grateful that someone, somewhere was letting them play. It's great to see the kids jumping round in Pistols shirts and John cutting the Christmas cake and handing it round to the kids. He seemed to be thoroughly enjoying himself. And then getting on stage and playing those classic songs and, as Steve says at one point in astonishment, not swearing during 'Bodies' (there are a lot of 'fucks' in that song). And John commenting that he'd had a word with Sid to tone down his rock star attitude.

From the sound of it they played blistering set, a rock band at the top of their game pulling out all the stops. Who could have guessed it would all fall part so soon afterwards.

I wonder what young people thought of the film as it transported us all into that far off country called the 1970s? It wasn't that long ago and everything seemed to be so different then. Or was it? Strikes, poverty, people living on the breadline? Some things don't change, sadly. To some people that film is probably history but to me it's my past.

It's a thoughtful and a delightful film that should be repeated every Christmas. Well done Julien and well done to BBC2 for showing it at Christmas. And thank you to the Sex Pistols of course!

No comments: