What a difference 20 years makes. Back when the Sex Pistols were setting punk standards, the band and its management seemed to court controversy and revel in chaos.

The band heralded that history in the shows that opened its current reunion tour, performing against a backdrop sporting blow-ups of news stories of old outrages. But today, apparently, the group wants nothing more than a peaceful, fun show. That’s exactly what happened in London’s Finsbury Park--in the neighborhood where singer Johnny Rotten was raised--at the second concert of the trek last weekend.

A crowd of 35,000, included such celebs as Johnny Depp, Kate Moss, Mick Jones and Topper Headon of the Clash and Duff McKagen and Matt Sorum of Guns N’ Roses. The show, which was broadcast live on BBC radio and recorded for a live album due July 30, consisted of efficient versions of the band’s old songs, with Rotten hamming it up.

The tour’s opening date in Finland two days earlier wasn’t quite so efficient. But John Giddings, the band’s London-based booking agent, says there were only minor hitches and that news reports of the show’s disruption by bottle-throwing fans were inaccurate.


“I was there and that’s a different picture of what happened,” he says. “A small section of the crowd started chucking plastic bottles and one person chucked a glass bottle and John merely said, ‘Hold on a second,’ got a policeman to take care of that and then they played a great show.”