Buzzcocks
Dublin Academy
Friday 11 May

The Buzzcocks are currently on tour. They have a few dates coming up in England at the end of the month but a couple of days ago they played in Dublin. Our man Carlos was there & reviews the gig below.

There’s a lot of buzz and chatter about this reunion and that reunion: fans are happy to see their loyalty returned; naysayers and cynics look for crude financial motivations. For some of these reforming bands, the truth lies somewhere in-between. They want to rekindle that spark and energy that made them make music in the first place. Making a few quid out of getting back together ”“ well, who could blame them? Not me, for one. In popular music, false dawns come every day. Why pin your hopes on the next big thing when you can have quality assured product? Reformed bands exist outside any scene. When bands reform, your commitment to them back in the day gives you a kudos now that culturally promiscuous hipsters and pop poppets will never attain.

It will come as a surprise to some to see a Buzzcocks show reviewed. It may be gathered up in the great wave of retro happiness washing over the British music scene and discussed as part of the wider movement of culturally important moments that have their roots in a glorious past.

Except it is not.

Here is some news, pop kids. Buzzcocks never went away, you know. Buzzcocks have been playing gigs and recording albums in their own determinedly individualistic manner solidly since their own reformation in 1989. Yes, that’s right. 1989.

Buzzcocks arrive in Dublin as a one-off. No tour, no product. Just themselves. They are not long back from the States, including triumphant shows at the Coachella festival, and from a couple of dates in Finland. They are gearing up for a couple of unique and landmark shows in England when three iterations of the band will be presenting material from across their 35-year plus career. The Back to Front shows on 25/26 May in Manchester and London will see them reunited with Howard Devoto in what is already being trailed as the punk rock gig of the decade.

Photo © Chris Rock

Unlike some bands trading off their glorious pasts, Buzzcocks arrive with no hype, no fanfare. They don’t need to. Their name alone, crackling on the grapevine, draws what is, to the seasoned Buzzcocks observer, the usual crowd ”“ bumflapped retro punks locked in an endless private 1977; the curious middle-aged and their partners, intrigued by the brand and the history; the young who have heard their transient guitar band heroes pay homage to the originals and have decided to check them out.

What looks like a cavernous venue when empty turns dangerously intimate as it fills. This has to be a capacity show, or very near it. A balls-out set from supports the Lee Harveys fuels the expectancy. They are punchy and solid, barre-chording their way through raucous three-minute slices of timeless punk. The Ramones with a Celtic twist.

Buzzcocks lope onstage and after a bit of knob-twiddling, the opening riff of ”ËœBoredom’ sends us crashing off on the rollercoaster. For the cognoscenti, every song is a winner. To the punk-curious, it’s a masterclass. Buzzcocks can afford to be self-indulgent when it comes to assembling a set. The band has a tried and tested repertoire, refined over thousands of shows. Because the band has remained true to their original ethos and methodology, songs from 1977 and 1997 fit seamlessly into one exhilarating, swooping ride. The first third of the set is a whistlestop tour of 1976-1980, drawing heavily on the seminal Another Music in a Different Kitchen album. ”Ëœ16′ and ”ËœNothing Left’ are drum-driven and hypnotic, an opportunity for the uninitiated to ”“ gasp ”“ dance. It’s a glorious sonic assault. It’s loud, raw and visceral.

The run down to the end of the set is a breathless rush of what most of the punters are here for ”“ jewels from the heyday. The singles are still going steady and, if you stopped to think about it, there may have been one or two omissions you might have wished for. But there is no time to think. It’s a glorious, breathless, melodic battering.

There’s a token break before the band step back out and deliver the money shot. The three-song encore delivers ”ËœHarmony in My Head’ (which gives Steve Diggle an opportunity for an extended homage to James Joyce), the signature ”ËœEver Fallen’ and a final, very naughty, ”ËœOrgasm Addict’. And then they’re gone leaving us teased, infatuated and buzzing.

Forget punk rock, this was a timeless communion with a legend. Original and never bettered.

Setlist
Boredom
Fast Cars
I Don’t Mind
Autonomy
Get On Our Own
Whatever Happened to?
Why She’s a Girl From the Chainstore
Sick City Sometimes
16
Nothing Left
Noise Annoys
Breakdown
Promises
Love You More
What Do I Get?

Encore
Harmony In My Head
Ever Fallen In Love (With Someone You Shouldn’t’ve)?
Orgasm Addict

For more info about The Buzzcocks, future live dates etc visit their website. They also have a fan site here.

All words Carlos. Carlos has a website called Subkultur which you can find here.

2 COMMENTS

  1. I was at the gig and I have to say it was the best set I’ve heard them play for a while. Great to hear ‘Whatever Happened To’ live, faithfully reproduced complete with the heavy chorus bass sound employed by Garth on his one and only single with the Buzzcocks.
    ‘Why She’s A Girl…’ is one of the finest songs ever written, ‘Love You More’ another classic, first time I heard it back in 1978 I couldn’t believe how short the song was!
    The Buzzcocks are purveyors of the short sharp pop shock and still sound as vibrant and relevant 36 years on from those legendary Lesser Free Trade Hall gigs that spawned a generation.
    And yes… I dream that I was there too…

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