Buzzcocks have reformed the original line for shows next year. In the meantime the current line still has lots of life in it reports Mick Middles who saw the band when they started…
Lovely venue beating in the heart of a shivering village. Even given the precarious treck across the Pennines, or perhaps because of it, Holmfirth Picturedrome seems the most welcoming of destinations. A rare success story too, bringing benign armies of fans from myriad genres ”â proggers, punks, rockers and bewildered souls aiming to recapture some teen fury ”â and seeing them ripple out into the village’s surprisingly cosmopolitan heart. As if Dingwall’s itself had been plucked from Camden and plonked, slap bang in the centre of this unlikely village that, for too long, has suffered from the painful vacuum of Compo and co.
Buzzcocks arrived fresh from the news of fleeting reunion gigs with Howard Devoto and John Maher in the spring. A fact that will be sure to throw a new spotlight on the band’s enduring, and evergreen legacy. However, such events shouldn’t cloud the main issue. Through an endless desire for freshness, and a clever filtering of new material into a set that still fires out the favourites ”â and through sheer, bloody hard work, Buzzcocks remain razor sharp, valid and, as ex-Distraction Mike Finney ( a local resident) noted on the evening, “as tight as an elephant’s thong’. Praise indeed.
Despite these genuine claims for contemporary validity, it is impossible for those of a certain age, not to endure a variety of weird and wonderful flashbacks during these shows. When shards of ”ËSpiral Scratch’ (Be it ”ËBreakdown’s’ ferocious attack or the gorgeous rising bass lines of ”ËBoredom’) spit into the atmosphere, how can you not think of those night’s at The Electric Circus or Band on the Wall? Nights when Buzzcocks firmly established the fact that Manchester and the not follow the sub-Pistols line of so many of the London groups, but forged a new subversive area entirely. A curious place where Captain Beefheart would meet The Ramones.
I caught the Buzzcocks set at Friends of Mine Festival in May and saw a band stumbling to battle with appalling ”â and unacceptable ”â sound problems. While this served to dissipate their attack on that occasion, the reverse could be said of a swelling Picturedrome that contained every thrilling aspect of that time-honoured attack.
As ever, the dynamic of the band splits evenly between the mod-ish guitar-driven thrust of Steve Diggle and the measured intelligence of Shelley’s love-lines. (The fact that Buzzcocks even survived the heady polemics of post punk Britain while delivering perfect pop statements dealing with feelings of positivity rather than thrusting angst, always proved their quality). If anything, the relationship between the Shelley / Diggle axis remains as potent as ever. As such, ”ËLove You More’ balances ”ËHarmony in My Head’, the latter exploding at the set’s conclusion. The finest moment on the night, however, belonged to the unlikely ’16’, a pivotal song from ”ËAnother Music in a Different Kitchen’ seemingly written around the aggressive drum pattern of John Maher. On Saturday it was this song, perhaps the ultimate statement of the band’s early experimental edge that saw the politely swirling mosh pit to reclaim some of its former intensity.
It would take a frosty heart, to no be affected by the occasion. A Buzzcocks set now allows a mix from several levels of their development, including items from ”ËTrade Test Transmission’ (Although, and unbelievably, even THAT latter-day set is 18 years old). Not that time matters. It all swirls and pumps from the pot. Naturally, ”ËEver Fallen in Love’ was allowed to seal an evening of pure joy marred only by one idiot ”â there is still just one ”â whose plastic pot projectile found Pete Shelley’s forehead. He wasn’t amused. Nevertheless, for 75 minutes, Holmfirth escaped from the vacuous thud of the modern age and enjoyed a different kind of tension. Very special”Â¦and then some.