I saw the Buzzcocks play in Auckland last night. Not being a big follower of their music, other than the singles that everybody knows, it was just novel to see one of the original Manchester bands play in such a great venue as the Powerstation.
Not being a huge fan, I didn’t expect Steve Diggle to be doing all the heavy lifting. Pete Shelley sang a few songs, but his role was mainly throwing in the odd backing vocal while throwing various rock and roll shapes. Diggle, while looking like a member of IT Support, sang his way through the two-hour set without cracking a smile.
That’s not to say that they weren’t having fun though. Shelley was definitely having a good time, interacting with the audience from what I could see – my vision was slightly impaired from standing directly behind 6’4” New Zealand comedian Paul Ego.
Of the songs I hadn’t heard before, or didn’t recognise, I couldn’t tell you if they were recorded last week or in the late ‘70s. The only album I know is this one, their debut, and any new material they played last night slotted into the older stuff well. The feeling of not knowing where one song ended and another one started was exacerbated by the fact that they seldom left gaps between songs. As soon as one song ended, it was a punkish “1…2…3…4!” into the next one.
One thing I can say for sure about last night was that it was the loudest gig I’ve been to in a long time; maybe the loudest since I regularly went to rock / metal gigs in smallish venues in the mid ‘90s. My ears are still ringing now. It’s kind of nice to know I still have frequencies left in my ears to damage!
It was great to hear their most well known song, Ever Fallen In Love (With Someone You Shouldn’t’ve) rolled out in the encore. It’s leagues above anything else they’ve created, much like Love Will Tear Us Apart is for Joy Division, and How Soon Is Now for the Smiths. Maybe that’s the legacy of Manchester bands – they only have license to pen one timeless song?
The Buzzcocks’ efficient and streamlined punk pop approach left me wondering whether latter-day bands like Green Day would exist without them. If I had the use of a time machine, would I go back to 1977 and stand there, like the fourth Doctor in Genesis Of The Daleks, faced with the dilemma of destroying the Buzzcocks in order to save the rest of humanity from the blight of Green Day, but in the process potentially spawning yet more horrible bands than Green Day (is that even possible?) in their absence?
Hit: I Don’t Mind
Hidden Gem: Autonomy