John Lydon resurrected Public Image Ltd. last night for its first concert in 17 years as the iconic post-punk band kicked off its seven-date UK reunion tour with a career-spanning performance at the O2 Academy in Birmingham, England.

According to The Independent’s Nick Hasted, the show — which featured Lydon fronting an approximation of latter-era PiL — “was weighted heavily towards” First Issue and Metal Box, the band’s first two albums, although latter material, such as 9’s “Disappointed” and “Warrior,” also was included. Lydon and Co. also performed “Psychopath” and “Sun” from the singer’s lone solo album, plus “Open Up,” his 1995 dance hit with Leftfield. (See video of “Public Image” above, and more video, as well as full setlist, after the jump.)

Hasted particularly noted the band’s performances of “Poptones” and “Death Disco,” noting: “There’s a sense in these songs of rare emotional drama, drawn from music and memories (Lydon) can’t ever fake. His vocal extremism, from a pure echoing howl down to soft contemplation, is just as remarkable.”

The Birmingham Mail’s Gary Young weighed in with this:

“PiL have never been easy listening, but anyone with an ear for Lydon’s songs will have been thrilled as ‘Careering,’ ‘Poptones,’ ‘This Is Not A Love Song,’ ‘Death Disco,’ ‘Flowers Of Romance,’ ‘Annalisa’ and ‘Religion’ all hit the spot. A blistering finale of ‘Rise’ and Leftfield Lydon’s ‘Open Up’ rounded off a triumphant return.”

And Slicing Up Eyeballs reader John left this comment on one of our other PiL posts:

“I was at that gig last night and it was incredible. They bought new life to the Metal Box material (awesome ‘Poptones,’ ‘Careering’ and ‘Albatross’). ‘This Is Not A Love Song’ shook the foundations and it was a tight, beautifully arranged and powerful PiL. Lydon is on form, the band sound great and they are working together nicely.”

Backed by late-’80s members Lu Edmonds (a former Damned guitarist) and Bruce Smith (onetime drummer for The Slits), plus new bassist Scott Firth, Lydon will play six more pre-Christmas dates in the UK — including a performance tonight in Leeds — and has expressed interest in mounting a larger reunion tour in 2010.

Read Hasted’s full review here and Young’s review here, and check out photos from the gig here and here.

See full setlist and more video of last night’s PiL gig after the jump…

Setlist: Public Image Ltd., O2 Academy, Birmingham, UK, 12/15/09

1. “Public Image”
2. “Carreering”
3. “This Is Not a Love Song”
4. “Poptones”
5. “Albatross”
6. “Tie Me To the Length of That”
7. “The Suit”
8. “Death Disco”
9. “Four Enclosed Walls”
10. “Flowers of Romance”
11. “Psychopath”
12. “Disappointed”
13. “Warrior”
14. “USLS 1”
15. “Banging the Door”
16. “Chant”
17. “Bags”
18. “Memories”
19. “Annalisa”
20. “Religion”

Encore:
21. “Sun”
22. “Rise”
23. “Open Up”

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