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Joe Donnelly was a member of Belfast's the Producers punk outfit, back in the late 70's Northern Ireland punk scene. He's currently still going to gigs, still into punk and contributing articles on punk and it's influence on many web sites. Nihilism On The Prowl is more than happy to get his gig reviews, comments and views on what's happening on the streets of Belfast these days. Here's one example...
The day I met a Sex Pistol
Last Thursday 11th Nov 2004 was a day like any other in Belfast. I'd been press ganged into doing some early Christmas shopping by the missus against my will, I thought we were meeting for some lunch and not to empty my pockets and maxxx  the credit cards in a tinsel fed snowcovered frenzy. As we were leaving Castle court which is a massive shopping centre in the heart of  downtown Belfast I saw a familiar figure walking towards me deep in conversation on his mobile. I said to myself  "fuck  thats Glen Matlock" then I had a moment of is it or isn't it doubt? So I did a quick double take without making my curiosity too obvious and to make sure it wasn't someone local and I was going to make a complete dick of myself if I speak to him! It was Glen ok in a mid length black coat and even with his newly streaked barnet. A touch of the middle age crisis maybe, I recognised him straight away but then I've only been a fan for 28 years, so when I heard his Cockney lilt as he passed me I knew it was him. So I took the opprtunity and to my embarrassment like some  teenybopper pop fan I said "Alright Glen" startling him in the process "any chance of an autograph?" to which he replied "yeah sure". I know this was an undignified request by an ex punk of my advanced years but hey! the guy is a legend, a fucking Sex Pistol for gods sake! With my autograph duly signed, this broke the ice and we had a bit of a chat. So here's some of the highlights of my indepth amateur interviewing technique.

Glen told me that he had just spoken on the phone to Midge Ure out of the blue for the first time in 20 years, wonder does Midge want him on the rerecording of the Band Aid single with all the current crap popsters this Sunday to give it a bit of punk credibility. Nah! I sincerly doubt it, but maybe a Rich Kids reform is in the offing, yes please I'll have some of that they were a great band. I told him Midge was actually in town the previous weekend for a book signing of his biography. I enquired how the previous nights DJ stint had went and what he played? His smile dropped a little as he replied "the Faces and stuff like that, but there wasn't that many punters there disappointingly" was the answer. He asked me if I was going to the gig he was playing that evening at Lavery's Pavillion with his band the Philistines? I said I was going to try my best even though I knew I might not be able to make it. We got Ray McVeigh ex the Professionals on guitar he informed me, I said "yeah I know". I asked what was in the set, which Rich Kids/Pistols songs. I pressed unintentionaly putting him on his guard at my apparent disinterest in his present day project which I genuinely didn't mean to do. We're doing mostly new stuff with a few songs from over the years he said defensivly, after I put him on the spot, apologies are in order. I then made a request on behalf of all the Sex Pistols fans in N. Ireland and asked Glen to try and get the Pistols to play here. "We tried to play here a while back and you guys wouldn't let us" he said. This time it was me on the defensive. I replied that there was nothing the bands fans could do about the backward attitude of the city council eight years ago, but it's a   different place now. With that we shook hands and I told Glen it was great to meet him and he again asked me again about coming to the gig and that was that. He was a very approachable, sound bloke and willing to have a natter with a fan. He answered questions he's probably heard a million times with no pretentions, and even though he was a member of one of the most important and influential bands of all time, he passed through Belfast city centre via the teeny goth punks virtually unoticed except by a punk relic like me. I didn't make the gig that night unfortunatly due to work commitments   but friends who were there have told me that Glen Matlock and the Philistines are a good band and they enjoyed the bands  energetic brand of pub rockesque sounds. The set was indeed mostly new stuff from the bands current "On Something album" with a couple of Pistols songs  "Stepping Stone" being one for good measure. Again there was a poor turnout possibly around 40 max (Belfast strikes again) which Glen understandably was unhappy with and spoke out about when he took time to speak to the fans that had bothered to attended the gig. Told ya he was a good guy. I think that the choice of venue may have played a part with the lack of punters as Laverys Pavillion is an out of the way indie fan type bar on the outskirts of the city centre. A venue like the Empire or the Limelight would have probably drew a bigger audience as  people in Belfast still don't really travel outside the immediate city centre area for gigs, only the hardcore fans of a particular band will go to any hole in the hedge for a gig. I was surprised myself when I first saw where he was playing as it's not a venue usually on the better known bands gig circuit, but I think the owners are trying to establish the place as a venue for all types of bands. Hopefully this disappointment will not deter Glen and the band be it the Pistols or the Philistines from returning here in the future and getting the turnout they deserve. Glen Matlock has always been pushed into the background in Pistols mythology, as he didn't have the over the top personality that some of the other members possessed, but he is a great songwriter with his pop sensibilities and an ear for a great tune as Mr Lydon now admits. He has been a past collaborator with some of the greats like Johnny Thunders, Iggy Pop, Ian Hunter and Mick Ronson to name but four, so I didn't care that he liked the Beatles or washed his feet too much (sniggering -PDC) you know the stories. Those early Pistols songs changed lives and changed the world for a lot of people, and he played a big part. Sid my have iconic status but without Glen's input there would have been none of the massive early Pistols classics. Still can't believe I met a Sex Pistol in Belfast city centre.
Joe Donnelly Belfast 13/11/04.
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