Public Image Ltd., circa 1986: Bruce Smith, Lu Edmonds, John Lydon, John McGeoch

John Lydon, ex-Sex Pistol and erstwhile reality TV star, is reactivating the long-dormant Public Image Ltd. for a five-date U.K. tour this December to mark the 30th anniversary of the postpunk band’s classic second album, Metal Box.

The concerts will mark the first PiL performances in 17 years, and, Lydon notes on his Web site, while the shows commemorate the seminal band’s 1979 album, “PiL will not be limited to tracks from one album and the tour will showcase their whole career.”

In that spirit, the 2009 edition of PiL does not feature the classic early punk-meets-dub lineup of Jah Wobble, Martin Atkins and Keith Levene, but, rather, is comprised of late-’80s members Lu Edmonds (a former Damned guitarist) and Bruce Smith (onetime drummer for The Slits and The Pop Group), as well as new bassist Scott Firth.

Lydon told the BBC that the decision to relaunch PiL came after watching his father die and his brother battle cancer last year:

“It was a very harsh time for me emotionally and I started paying attention to ‘Death Disco,’ the record I wrote about my mother dying. I’ve always been wrapped around some sort of emotional tragedy through PiL but also great joy.”

The frontman also promised to debut new PiL songs as the December gigs, telling the BBC, “There’s a whole wash of new material that I haven’t used yet but I will be doing some kindly drop-ins to some PiL anthems.” As for the absence of key PiL figures such as Wobble (whose real name is John Wardle), Lydon noted, “John’s a great mate of mine but we see different paths for each other.”

He continued:

“I found it very difficult working again with the Pistols to write new material and I think it was because I was kind of viewing it as imitating the past somehow and I did not want that to be going on in PiL.”

Tickets for the December concerts go on sale Friday through LiveNation.co.uk, although a special pre-sale will be announced Tuesday on PiL’s new official site.

See full PiL tour dates and video after the jump…

Public Image Ltd. tour dates

Public Image Ltd. tour dates:

Dec. 15: 02 Academy, Birmingham, UK
Dec. 16: 02 Academy, Leeds, UK
Dec. 18: 02 Academy, Glasgow, UK
Dec. 19: 02 Academy, Manchester, UK
Dec. 21: 02 Academy, London, UK

Public Image Ltd., “Poptones,” Old Grey Whistle Test, 1980

Public Image Ltd., “Careering,” Old Grey Whistle Test, 1980

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