rock follie? do you want a buzz cock?
rock follie? do you want a buzz cock?

rock follie? do you want a buzz cock?

Manchester Apollo
Live Review
May 25th 2012

After the show I bump into Pete Shelley and with a jocular tinge to his voice he tells me that they had to get Howard Devoto back on stage for the encores so that they could sell out the Apollo. He’s kinda joking of course, but the 3500 capacity venue is far bigger than the usual Buzzcocks venue and tonight’s special show is a celebration of the band’s near four decades at the coal face of classic song writing.

There are few bands that have the ability to write tunes this fluid and timeless. For a brief period of time, fast forwarding from punk, Buzzcocks were machine gunning out singles that were each breathtakingly better than the one before. This was in the last classic period of the seven inch single- the perfect pop format- a format that totally suited the band- with the two songs and often a better B side than the A side, bagged up in a great sleeve- how pure punk rock pop can you get.

Buzzcocks were made by punk, Shelley and Devoto went to London to find the Sex Pistols in a weekend of excitement, borrowing the college car from Bolton tech they saw the Pistols twice and secretly taped them and made their own very own version of the band. The 2 Pistols gigs in Manchester kick started the city’s modern music scene and the ‘cocks debut Spiral Scratch EP was the first punk rock DIY single that changed all of our perceptions of how to make and release music. Quite revolutionary.

A week after its release Howard Devoto left- he was so punk rock that he was disillusioned by the movement before anyone else. Tonight is all about Howard Devoto singing with his old colleagues again, a dusting down of punk rock history which poses one of those endless what ifs or eternal question marks. The Devoto less ‘cocks made three brilliant albums of pure pop art through fuzzbox but where would they have gone with Devoto? would they have turned into Magazine? or a very different hybrid.

The gig is split into three sets- the first third is the Buzzcocks of now. All the new material which sees the band play songs from the last couple of albums. The sound has changed little over the years- the twin buzzsaw guitars, the alternating vocals from Diggle’s gruff assault to Shelley’s quicksilver bleating perfection. The mini set is dotted with some great songs that stand out because they still have that twist of melody and that classic songwriting capability. The last two albums have been criminally ignored as the the band have slipped from fashion but the songs can be just as good.

The second set is the classic Buzzcocks with the oriental rhythm section of great drummer John Maher and Paddy Garvey going the band again, the punk rock jukebox, where all those classic A and B sides come flying at you. There’s album tracks that should have been singles and B sides that could had been hits on their own. Why can’t I Touch It? sounds great- Buzzcocks go funk and should have been a pure hit but was the b side to the fab Everyones Happy Nowadays- the moment when the band started to pull apart their buzzsaw attack and make something quite strange out of it and still remain within the pop parameter.

These songs were hits but they should have been massive. I’ve always been baffled by the way Buzzcocks got halfway up the greasy pole of success but never to the top. Their singles were like the Beatles in terms of melody and progression. Maybe the punk rock movement that gave them their space also denied them the mainstream. The mainstream media at the time had some kind of strange fear of punk, Buzzcocks may have got Top Of The ops but daytime radio was trickier and daytime radio was the key.

The music stands the test of time, the band may get older but their songs remain youthful rushes of rushing guitar and pretty melodies- it’s like Dorian Grey In reverse. This was one of the key bands of punk, they took punk out from the London elite and gave it to the north. They invented DIY and they understood the fast forward speed of punk- the idea of rattling out the singles and twisting their format round, taking the formulae apart and experimenting with it without ever losing the excitement. They were linear, tight and perfect and the songs were witty, clever and hysterical love songs, punk rock love songs that sung of lust and envy and fast cars. Tonight they sound rushed and as out of breath as ever, like there is no time to cram in all these great ideas.

The band sound ragged in parts and Steve Diggle is as loud as ever and quite over excitable in parts- it’s this dynamic tension between his scissor kicking rockism and Pete Shelley’s sardonic very much non rock approach that is the key to Buzzcocks- the two opposites, the warring couple- each with their own powerful, creative agenda and yet when they join together and those two guitars interplay with each other it’s perfect.

The third set sees the return of Howard Devoto. There is 50 minutes ear marked for this section on the timings around the venue which sees hopes raised for as real scoop like a version of Shot By Both Sides- the Shelley song that he gave to Devoto who wrote the words and changed the verse- that could have been a perfect moment. Instead we get charmingly untidy versions of the four songs from the Spiral Scratch EP, barely remembered and teetering on collapse-a perfect punk rock statement. Diggle plays the bass like a guitar player sitting on the drum rise whilst Shelley plays the classic sawn in half guitar rasping out the simple chords that were so key on the original release which was arguably the only true punk record from the early batch of releases.

Devoto is as enigmatic as ever. He makes some great quips, ‘set your hearing aids to 45rpm’ he explains as the band collapse into a version of the Troggs I Can’t Control myself’ which stops halfway through, they return to it for the encore and play an incendiary version of the song.

It’s fittingly disconcerting and very punk rock, not sure if the Apollo has ever seen anything like it before. Buzzcocks turn everything on its head and their almost winging it versions of their Spiral Scratch period is played exactly in the spirit it should have been.

Tonight is a history lesson and a rush through the back pages of one of the key bands of much misunderstood movement.

Pete Shelley once snag ‘Nostalgia for an age yet to come’–maybe it just arrived.

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Award winning journalist and boss of Louder Than War. In a 30 year music writing career, John was the first to write about bands such as Stone Roses and Nirvana and has several best selling music books to his name. He constantly tours the world with Goldblade and the Membranes playing gigs or doing spoken word and speaking at music conferences.


  1. I was there too and whilst I enjoyed it I think you’re being a bit generous, John. At times it was pretty shambolic and Diggle looked completely out of control as the gig went on. I’ve seen the band many times and know that it can always become the Diggle-show but last night he went too far in my opinion. What should have been two spectacular reunions was dampened by his antics – his singing got worse as did his guitar playing, and during ‘Pulsebeat’ I thought he was playing a different song. Then we had Pete Shelley, who also seemed to be getting exasperated with Steve, starting ‘Can’t Control’ instead of ‘Friends of Mine’! Good, but not great I thought.

  2. Totally agree about the Buzzcocks history John, but the gig was a travesty ruined by one idiot. Unfortunately that idiot was onstage and playing guitar. A worse display of petulant, egomaniacal, ‘look at me mummy, listen to me mummy’ it is difficult to imagine from anyone over 3.
    Diggle was totally disrespectful to his audience ( who had paid out a lot of money to celebrate one of the finest bands this country has produced), to the memory of said band, but most of all to the people he shared the stage with. I felt most sorry for John Maher, a man who came out of musical retirement for this only to have his moment in the spotlight (Pulsebeat) ruined by Diggle guitar-wanking all over it after turning his instrument up louder & louder to remove any subtleties the band ever had.
    I have been going to Buzzcocks gigs for 35 years, but never again ( at least until the increasingly embarrassed Shelley kicks Diggle out).

  3. So, Diggle was “quite over-excitable in parts”. That’s one way of putting it.
    Another is “shitfaced”.

  4. Agree Diggle was boorish from the word go, but despite his antics it couldn’t take away the sheer joy of the ‘classic’ and ‘Scratch’ line-ups being on stage, belting out those woderful songs. Fluffed lines, missed chords made it all themore real, if it had been record perfect we could have gone to see a Buzzer’s tribute band.

  5. What’s the Diggle story John??? I’d decided last minute not to go but was trying to keep in touch – I had a few texts from people there who were pissed off. “Charmingly untidy”? One of the greatest bands ever, but if our heroes get it wrong we have to call them for it surely?

  6. Sounds awful. Glad I didn’t bother to make the effort to go. I was warned by Graham Lewis of Wire at a gig in Sheffield before Christmas that The Buzzcocks had become a sad parody of themseleves. Seems like he was right.

    • I saw Wire earlier this year and they were a parody of themselves as well, good because I love Wire but still a parody. What band isn’t after 40 years?

        • What he said, I also saw Wire recently and they constantly move forwards, no way are they a ‘parody’. I might not always like the way they are moving, but they are moving in interesting directions and there are certainly no egos on show.

  7. Obviously some of the oldies who went to see the Buzzcocks last night had not been to a gig for years, so what if Diggle was a a bit noisy and a bit drunk, that’s live music- it’s meant to be a bit all over the place. Diggle was sometimes erratic but also very powerful.

    Obviously the babysitter brigade were offended by the loud guitar- what the fuck are they doing at a punk rock show? For me and everyone who went the Buzzcocks were great, Diggle was the best one on the stage, in love with the moment.

    • Bollocks, I go too many gigs and am not averse to loud guitars but a band is the sum of its parts, not one mans sorry attempts to upstage everyone with his musical and physical antics. It was disrespectful which is the thing that hurts most!

    • ‘In the moment’
      One way of putting it. The guy’s an embarrassment and everyone knows it, especially the other band members!

  8. Great to be at the event, bought the t-shirt met up with old friends but overall it was a bit of a disappointment. The sound was awful, the second set was the highlight and the third an under rehearsed shambles. Spirit of punk? no, taking the money I think. I saw them at the FOM festival last year and they blew me away, a good mix of old and new. Viva la Buzzcocks! I’m off to put Another Music on. And Nathan, I might be an oldie but I still play in a band and go to a fair few gigs, that sound was awful.

  9. I’d rather see Diggle drunk and chaotic that the dry meanderings of Wire. I’m looking forward to Buzzcocks tonight in London, hope Diggle is chaotic.

    The self styled academic brigade killed punk. They sneered at all the emotion and the chaos with their tutting and control of the music press and gave us a generation of bands who look like college professors like Wire- how very dull.

  10. 1st set was far too loud. Not because I’m old because it messed the sound up. The few great new songs sounded alright but vocals were low and guitars too high in mix.
    2nd set they had a different mix on sound. Far far better. Guitars lower vocals more distinct. Could hear the bass and drums were great. Hit after hit. Great. Agreed about diggle. He was over excited. Ruined harmony. And tried but couldn’t ruin pulse beat. The greatest buzzcocks number.
    3rd set was fun. What did you expect from the Devoto man. Great. Funny. And enjoyable. Poor comment from diggle about coming to see the real band next time. Maybe he was ‘over emotional’.
    Enjoyed it.


    • The classic stuff: Fast Cars, Autonomy, I Don’t Mind, Get on Our Own, Orgasm, What Do I Get, 16 Again, Mad Judy, Say You Don’t, Promises, EHN, Harmony, Pulsebeat, Chainstore, Touch It, EFIL, Love You More, Fiction Romance.
      All the Spiral Scratch EP, I Can’t Control Myself.

  11. I agree with much of what has been said above. The gig was shambolic almost amateurish in parts – may be in the spirit of punk; just what you wanted for DIY gig in a sweaty hall in 1977 but not good enough for 2012 ticket prices and a band who have played together for 35 years. Diggle was the main culprit, clearly off his face, constantly turning up his amp killing the mix and drowning the other instruments and Shelly’s more delicate vocals with screaming amp feedback – must have been a nightmare for the mixer. He also had a weird mockney accent “fackin this…fackin that…” more embarrassing than inspiring, reminiscent of a drunken uncle at a family party pretending to be a sex pistol.

    All that said I thoroughly enjoyed my night of sweaty escapism from our summer of financial meltdown back to when I was a 15 year old in the winter of discontent oblivious to all that bollocks. Thanks Buzzcocks!

  12. I’m glad to see I’m not the only one who thought Diggle spoiled what could have been a legendary night. I’m not from the babysitter brigade as someone dubbed them – I’m at gigs most weeks, but I agree about the first set being too loud. I love loud (Crocodiles the other week worked as a loud gig) but it was a shame for Maher and Garvey to have their hour in the spotlight detracted from. I actually enjoyed Howard’s contributions – certainly tongue in cheek but still sounding good. Time for someone to have a word with Mr Diggle before tonight’s gig, although I suspect it’s already too late.

  13. It was a joke, no one should have to put up with the shit that came off that stage last night. John you are being far too kind, they were a fuckin shambles, you would not allow Goldblade to get away with sounding like that so why The Buzzcocks?

  14. Like most of the previous comments I can’t agree with this reviewer. The first set was quite frankly crap – the sound was appalling and considering the great back catalogue that Buzzcocks have from their last few albums, the set list was turgid (the lethargy of the crowd spoke volumes). Having said that, the second set was much better. The sound was more sorted and they ripped through some excellent tracks. As for the last set, the less said about Devoto, the better. A poor end to a pretty shoddy show. We came away disappointed and regretting how much we had spent on tickets, hotels and train fares. Hopefully London fans will have a much better time tonight now that they\’ve had their “practice” gig!

    Re. Steve Diggle – can’t say I agree with some of the previous posters. For sure he was a bit over the top but at least he seems to have a genuine affection for his fans – something that Pete Shelley failed to convey last night. :(

  15. Diggle ruined the gig. One can tell that Shelley tolerates him….just. His playing and singing were god-awful. His insistence on counting the band in, even when their was a drum or bass intro was teeth-gritting. His stupid ad-libs (“I don’t wanna be a soldier, I don’t wanna kill a man” ad finitum), his ridiculous guitar hero posing, his attempted upstaging of the band, his petulant behaviour-sitting on the drum riser, leaning nonchalently against the side stage, stopping playing to slug beer,it was all milk curdlingly awful.
    I love the Buzzcocks, they’re heroes to me, but that was extremely disappointing given we’d travelled down from Glasgow, hotel etc. The Manc folk we met were great, though.
    Diggle needs to take a look at himself.

  16. I’d love to know just how many Buzzcocks gigs some of you beard stroking bloody hippies have been to in recent years. One? none? the problem with gigs like this is they drag out all the Corrie watchers off their sofas for a bit of nostalgia, who then complain about the sound, complain that it wasn’t worth the ticket price or the beer’s in a plastic glass. Jesus. 24 quid for that was an absolute bargain. And I had hotel and travel to pay on top.

    Diggle was disrespectful to his fans? What absolute bollocks mate, he’s not there to respect you. If you think he is then i’m afraid you’re much more up your own arse than he ever is. Yeah he was a bit over the top at times but that’s him and no different to the way he’s been on a lot their gigs in the past few years. He didn’t ruin Pulsebeat, don’t you realise that they rehearse? The way he played it is the way they usually do it, which shows that people complaining about it haven’t been to recent gigs and seen it done that way.

    Remember the phrase Boring Old Fart? That’s you that is. You have turned into what you once despised. Go back to your sofas and your mundanity. Leaves more room at the bar for those of us who still have a life.

  17. We came up from Swindon to see Buzzcocks on home turf. We go to a lot of gigs and have seen the band play better fairly recently. However I am still glad we went! It was great to see all the original band members back again – Harvey looked really pleased to be back! I didn’t really enjoy the first set that much as not that keen on the new songs and the sound wasn’t great. I was a bit disappointed that Diggle didn’t let John do his drum solo, as for me that is the best bit of Pulsebeat. So what if it was all a bit chaotic – surely that’s in the spirit of punk? Personally I thought it was a good night and really enjoyed the last 2 sets.

  18. Whatever happened to the punk rock Genration?
    Everyone turns into their parents do they?
    Oomph the guitar is a bit too loud! Oooh the guitar player is being a bit silly!
    I can’t believe what some people are syaing on here, the gig was a punk rock gig, sometimes it was all over the place, sometimes magical.
    Have the old punks turned into he sort of people who listen to 6music and like their music like warm real ale presented by self deprecating northern types doffing their caps? Is Diggle a bit too rowdy for the generation that got boring and believes that Wire or the Gall making the same record over and over is experimental?

    You have turned into everything you once hated.

  19. I agree with the majority of comments about this gig. Awful and truely disappointing. Went with mate and we were both around in the day. Saw Buzzcocks in the open air in Platt Fields park and also at Manchester Poly in the snow. On that occasion Shelley’s amp blew up. They replaced it and he said to the audience ‘What do you want us to play’ and they then played a request based set. Great stuff. Last night was so, so sad. Great songs murdered and disrespected by the idiot Diggle on guitar. This is/was the root of Buzzcocks dilema. They had a sensitive beautiful songwriter and an oafish unsubtle guitar player incapable of giving the songs the shades of light and dark they needed. Diggle ruined the night and the atomosphere last night. He was drunk or high or both. At one point he was doing his sad ‘I always wanted to be Mick Jones’ sad act at one side of the stage and Shelly and Garvey were on the other side with their back to him wishing he or they weren’t there. The body language said it all. Poor Pete. How sad to end your once promising music career married to an out of control egomaniac through expediancy. And what a difference between Diggle and Shelly songs. Here’s my rewrite of one of Diggle’s ‘There’s a harmony in my head, it’s the only one I ever had’ Shelly should boot him out and get a guitarist who can make the beautiful subtlies of his songs come alive live. Walking back to the car park the overheard conversations were all ‘Steve Diggle – what a wanker’ Get rid.

  20. Video: Howard Devoto rejoins Buzzcocks for first time in 33 years at Manchester gig | slicing up eyeballs // 80s alternative music, college rock, indie

    […] and a closing encore of The Troggs’ “I Can’t Control Myself,” according to John Robb’s review of the full concert over at Louder Than […]

  21. Another one here agreeing with the vast majority of comments, very mixed bag I thought, the highs were brilliant and the lows forgettable. I reckon mr Diggle is definitely losing the plot, he spoilt to many songs for my liking, murdered harmony in my head and chainstore, and yes I go to loads of punk gigs and saw the “classic” Buzzcocks line up back in the day, but I also know a dick when I see one. sorry to say this cos Steves one of my all time hero’s, he does need to chill a bit tho

  22. I agree with what most people at the gig and half the people are saying here- great gig. The oldies who don’t like a noisy guitar or a bit of attitude should not bother going to a gig like this.

  23. I travelled from Nottingham and on the whole it was worth it, but I agree with some of these comments about Diggle. I’m up for banter but I couldn’t tell a word he was saying, something perhaps attributable to the fact he was shitfaced?

  24. Agree with most comments here and think Mike Morris pretty much summed the gig up in the first comment.

    Been a Buzzcocks fan since I was in the Secret Public at age of 14 and seen them on many occasions but last night was disappointing.

    • The comment about ‘turn your hearing aids up to 45rpm’ from Devoto might have been better aimed at the band than the audience! There were certainly some musical miscommunications during the songs.. what happened to ‘Pulsebeat’ half way through? Guys – you are the purveyors of perfect 2-3 minute power pop……….not Sonic Youth sound explorers. If you were intending the gig to explore sound then why didn’t you play ‘Late for the train’ ?.
      Leave those tasks to Peter’s rather splendid Groovy box set retrospective on drag city.

  25. I’m just back from the Bixton version.
    It was too loud, a bit ragged and Diggle stole the show.
    I first saw Buzzcocks in 1978.
    And I love it that after 34 years they are sill raw.
    I’ve seen the latest line-up a few times and they are always like this.
    Here’s a review that’s so old I wrote it on Myspace. From November 2007 to be precise.

  26. I dont think anyones complaining about “a noisy guitar or a bit of attitude”, you need to read the comments again because you clearly don’t understand what people have said

  27. I love the Buzzcocks despite Diggle, not because of him, Shelley should just do the decent thing and tell him to either sort himself out or fuck off! Getting champagned and charlied up before such an important gig not only shows a lack of respect to the fans but also to his bandmates. He fucked up the first set, the second was much better, more like a proper buzzcocks gig, like someone else said – the third was like bad karaoke – a total embarrassment. I’m glad I was there because the atmosphere was good but it should have been great! I could have been at Hookys gig in Liverpool where the band have respect for each other and the audience and you can hear what they are doing!

      • don’t get me wrong I’m not against a bit of dutch courage before facing three and a half thousand expectant fans but there is line. Diggle chose to cross it then snort it before the gig instead of getting wankered after it!

  28. We saw the Bunnymen in Glasgow a few months back and can draw parallels with The Buzzcocks gig on Friday. Mac was out of it, aggressive and incoherent as was Diggle the other night, whilst Will was like Pete, just getting on with it. Perhaps it’s because of the spark between the different and volatile characters that makes a band great rather than just good?

  29. Couldn’t agree more, there is a huge difference between noise & attitude and fucking up & disrespect.

  30. Well Brixton sounds like it was similar in many ways to Manchester. It all started out very well with a great djay set from Kris Needs who played some terrific 45s by the well known (The Clash) and less well known (Basement 5). Unfortunately the first Buzzcocks set had shockingly bad sound. Now that could be excused 30 years ago, but not in 2012. Because of this some really underated songs like “Alive Tonight” and “Isolation” passed by when they should have been highlights. Diggle also seemed to have been over indulging again with one rant aimed at someone, calling them a c*** and him over doing the Pete Townsend style theatricals. I know he’s a showman but in recent years he’s become a parody of himself. The second set was much better but again the sound was so poor it was 20 seconds before I recognised “Everybody’s Happy Nowadays”. The third set was a stormer and I think Howard Devoto enjoyed himself and the set closing version of The Trogg’s I can’t control myself was great. I did enjoy the night but I cannot see it converting over any of the non Buzzcocks fans who were there on the recommendation of friends, and there were clearly plenty of people who fell into that bracket in the far from sold out venue. A good night, but not the classic it should have been. httpss://

  31. The band are nearing their 60s and considering that, they put on a pretty good show. I don’t know if it was a good idea to start with an hour of post reunion material, I enjoyed it but I don’t know if babysitter types there for the hits did. It was defintely the most energetic part of the show in Manchester.
    As for Diggle he has been acting like this for many many years but Friday was the worst, although I must confess that my major objection to it all is that it’s all delivered in a London accent!!

    • Maybe it’s because he’s been living in London for many many years Stuart! ;-) All joking aside Diggle has indeed been acting like that for quite a while (mid 1990s I think) but it’s really over the top now and it must annoy the hell out of Pete I suspect. I did enjoy the night but that first set could have been an absolute belter as they have many classics from the “Alive Tonight” ep onwards but it wasn’t. In London that was down to poor sound and probably playing a bit too long plus some antics from Diggle. I have mates who were at both gigs sp I will ask them for a comparison of the 3 gigs later.

  32. London went like this for me:

    First set – awful sound ruined it – Went on a bit too long – felt sorry for Danny and Chris cause they’re good players and deserved better. Diggle went off on a rant about some idiot who threw a plastic glass – he was right this time, but it was the last coherent thing we heard from him for the rest of the evening.

    Second set was excellent apart from Diggle ruining “Harmony In My Head” and not being about to play “Everybody’s Happy Nowadays” – Garvey and Maher were brilliant, like they’ve never been away. Seemed to be having fun too. Funny that two blokes who have hardly played in years can be so spot on when a man who’s been in the group all along can’t get it right!

    Third Set was fun, oddly enough I thought Diggle was toned down in this bit, maybe having Howard back on stage helped (stern word on Friday night perhaps?).

    I think reading the stuff on here beforehand helped me enjoy it more – thanks for your various opinions -pulled down expectations a bit. I had a good night.

  33. Wish people would fuck off with the ‘your too old, so don’t again’ bit. I’ve been going to gigs and playing in bands since 79, and that gig on Friday was a shambles. ‘its punk innit?’ What a sad fuckin excuse, I still play in a band today and there is no way I would go on stage in that state, if some of the people on here wanna settle for 2nd best thats fine, but for those of us who grew up with this band it was the worst I’ve seen em. Also have to agree with an earlier point, Garvey and Maher got it spot on, Maher still must play from time to time, felt sorry for them both, this should have been the gig of the year, as it is we are talking about it for the wrong reason.

    • I don’t think it is about settling for 2nd best Richie – I think most of us there have seen them play better and in that sense it was a bit of a let down. I too have been a fan since the early days and agree with you about Garvey and Maher (such a fantastic drummer). But in a way I would hate for the band to be too polished – I’m glad they are still raw and unpredictable. There were still moments of brilliance there on Friday.

    • Spot on Richie. Like you I’ve been going to gigs since, well before you if I’m honest. I started with punk and I’m afraid it’s not ‘punk rock’ to be so out of it you can’t perform properly and more importantly spoil it for fans who’ve paid good money to see you. It compounds it when you can’t even see that’s what you are doing. I’ve seen Magazine twice since they reformed and the contrast between those gigs and Friday’s was marked. I don’t think Devoto was too impressed with Diggle, especially sitting on the drum riser to play bass as if it was beneath him. As I’ve said before someone, probably Pete Shelley, needs to have a serious word with him. I’ve seen the current lineup three or four times and he is getting worse.

  34. The more I think about Fridays gig the more of a disappointment is has become, me and my mates like most people have had the tickets for months and have been looking forward to this, we’re now talking about it for the wrong reasons !
    As for the people posting on here suggesting that it’s punk rock to behave in this manner then you clearly have absolutely no idea what punk is about !

  35. Sandra, yeah there were some great moments I will admit to that. Promises and Love You More never sounded better, real highlights, but they were few and far between.

    Mike you are right about The Magazine gigs, I saw them back in the day as well, and I love Devoto, thats why it was so sad on Friday, he would never allow his own band to sound like that.

  36. Having read the comments here prior to turning up at Brixton I was prepared for the worse so came away pleasantly relieved!
    The second set was worth the ticket price in itself and, being forewarned of Diggle’s antics, was able to focus my attention away from his posturings.
    Funnily enough once he was ‘relegated’ to playing bass in the third set the fun and games largely abated, maybe by then he was genuinely tired and emotional.
    Third set could have been longer if all of the Devoto / Shelley compositions had been included and that could have balanced out the disproportionate time given to the opening segment.
    Good to see such enthusiasm from the crowd – viewed from the safety of the Circle. Would loved to have joined in but at my advanced years the local A&E would have one more admission I suspect!

  37. I wouldn\’t say Mr Diggle\’s behavior ruined the gig – the songs are strong enough to transcend any onstage gaffes – but it occurs to me that he would be wise to moderate his alcohol and stimulant intake. I\’m not an expert but it appears to be affecting his judgement, musical ability and carries huge health risks.

  38. Some very interesting comments. Went to Brixton last night and my take on it was Set 1: Sound poor at times but still enjoyed some of the songs. Diggle dug someone out about lobbing a glass, fair enough.
    Part 2: Sound not great but better and I loved it though as been mentioned, Diggle ballsed up Harmony. Garvey was thoroughly enjoying himself. Third set: Took it as what it was, a bit of fun with Devoto back on vocals and Diggle behaving himself at last. Always enjoy this band no matter what and there are not many I can say that about. Seen ’em loads of times over the years and bit by bit Steve has become Mick Jones. Probably thinks it livens up their stage presence but I reckon he just gets off his face and wants to play the rock god. Used to annoy me but now I just laugh especially when he does his pointing, and depending on the crowd, winking at the girls. Probably get on fine offstage but on it I get the impression Pete can’t be doing with him. A few years ago in Belgium when he was fucking up some song and falling about onstage I can cleary remember Shelley mouthing ‘you fucking wanker’ whilst shaking his head. He looked furious.

  39. “one can tell Shelley tolerates him . . .” “it’s not punk rock to behave in this manner . . ”

    Jesus have you people heard yourselves? Fuck of back to your boring suburban lives in front of the telly for another 30 years you sad middle class twaaaaats.

    • No, you fuck off with your ‘hilarious’ punk pseudonym (look it up), there is nothing punk about playing at / being thick, I believe The Exploited still tour if you want the ‘real’ punk experience.

  40. When did we all get so old sounding?
    The punk generation have turned into the saddest bunch of whiners. Grumpy old men complaining because the guitar player was too loud or being a bit wild on stage. Yes, Diggle was a bit over the top in london but it didn’t ruin the gig for me. Imagine if we had met our future selves all those years ago we would be laughing. laughing at people droning on about the PA or the band being out of time- what do you really expect from a punk rock band? miming? subtly? guitars turned down? Genesis? a pop show?
    The chaos is part of the performance, please stay in your safe European Homes you bedwetters and babysitters.

  41. First set London the sound was just TERRIBLE, i mean REALLY terrible, picked up though thank god for 2nd and third set, yes diggle tonight out it it by far, funny as i took someone along who really does not know the history of Buzzcocks and she said after the first set ‘please that idiot on the left is not gonna be on for rest of set is he’? But for me i still like him (even though bit over the top sometimes yes) i mean imagine Buzzcocks with him not there! Fantastic historic show apart from bad sound first set.

  42. Cant believe the moaning you have become what you set out to destroy .Perhaps the majority of you should stick to Coldpiss and the like if you want it to sound like the record save yourself some money and listen to the album in the comfort of your own home.It was great to see all the members of a truly legendary band perform once again together .If you dont like it get up on stage and do it yourself !!!

  43. Some of you people are horrible – self-righteous, hyper-critical, unforgiving and unkind.

    Anyone who\’s seen the band over the last few years won\’t have been surprised by the show on Saturday – and anyone with any fondness for the band would not be subjecting it or its members to this kind of verbal vivisection.

    • I have seen the band over the last few years so I know Diggle can be a little OTT but last weekend’s shows were just one step too far. Do you really believe that the band are beyond criticsm? It is only because we care about the band that we were so annoyed by Diggle’s perfomance, I’ve loved them for 36 years and if I didn’t care I wouldn’t give a damn about a bad show. I fail to see why that makes me “self-righteous, hyper-critical, unforgiving and unkind.”

  44. Maybe Diggle is going through some kind of problems at the moment – lets cut him a bit of slack! Didn’t think he was as bad as some are making out. After all this venom he must be feeling pretty bad – don’t want to see him leave Buzzcocks. I agree with the person who said there was something magical about seeing the old line up against the backdrop pic.

    • I don’t think any fan wants Diggle to leave the Buzzcocks, that would be totally wrong, I don’t even mind him being a bit OTT at times but there are limits to a person’s behaviour. If, as you say, he is having some kind of mental crisis at the moment (though I’ve no evidence of this) then I hope the reaction here (and elsewhere, as I’ve read similar comments on other websites) will be a wake-up call for him to seek help. I, and I’m sure everyone here, just want to be able to enjoy Buzzcocks gigs for many more years to come.

  45. Calls for Diggle to be sacked are ridiculous. FACT: Buzzcocks wouldn’t be Buzzcocks without Steve Diggle. For Buzzcocks to work at all, Shelley and Diggle need eachother. They’ve both tried solo careers and the truth is neither of them can pull a decent size crowd when playing outside Buzzcocks. They both know that fact. No doubt they both resent it but that’s the reality. They have to deal with it and deal with it they should. Preferably in private so fans don’t have to witness the spectacle of Diggle acting like an arsehole while Shelley gives disapproving looks or turns his back. FFS, you’re grown men! Get together and sort it out!!!

    On the night itself I enjoyed the show overall. As the evening progressed Steve Diggle did start to become somewhat of an irritation. I’ve seen the band in various guises over the years, including a couple of the early shows with Devoto back in 1976. I’m of the opinion (probably like most on here) that the glory days came when Howard left and ended when the band split in 1981 i.e. the classic Shelley/Diggle/Garvey/Maher line-up. I’ll admit I haven’t followed their post ’89 reunion career that closely. I don’t own any of their later albums but out of a sense of loyalty, admiration and no doubt a touch of nostalgia, I’ve seen three shows featuring the current line-up and can honestly say they put on a very tight, professional and entertaining show each time. Yes, Diggle’s antics would tip over the edge into pantomime rock star parody mode at times but up until last Friday night I felt it always came across as well intentioned. His enthusiasm is usually more infectious than annoying and serves as an interesting counterpoint to Shelley’s more laid back stage persona.

    But what the hell happened to Diggle on the ‘Back to Front’ dates? All well and good to make with the Pete Townshend/Mick Jones/Spinal Tap nonsense but if you’re gonna strike the pose you better make sure you come up with the goods musically. Unfortunately he made several VERY noticeable cockups. On Chainstore he came in on vocal well out of sync and failed to notice for at least an entire verse. His biggest crime in my opinion was his failure to drop out in the appropriate place during Pulsebeat. What should have been a spotlight moment for drummer John Maher was drowned out by a poorly played guitar wank shitfest, which just like his vocal on Chainstore was also completely out of sync with everything else. This only served to deliver the impression he neither cared or maybe was totally unaware of the presence of the other band members..

    I’m told Maher hasn’t played drums in 20 years. If anyone was going to be the weak link at this show, I figured it’d be him. Couldn’t have been more wrong. I was genuinely looking forward to hearing him pound out that solo section in the middle of Pulsebeat but thanks to Mr Diggle, we were robbed! Maher and Garvey were rock solid throughout. Like someone else said on here, how come the two guys who haven’t played in years happened to be the most impressive musicians on the night???

    The Spiral Scratch section was odd – just what you might expect of Howard – the unexpected! It wasn’t helped by Diggle wanking around again, parking his arse on the drum riser while Howard was singing. Was it some kind of childish ‘I don’t give a shit who Howard is’ protest? Or maybe I’m being too harsh and he was just tired? I interpreted it as being disrespectful to Howard, the rest of the band and also the audience, plus it made Diggle look a tit.

    Back to Devoto. My initial thoughts were ‘this guy’s taking the piss’ but I’ve since decided he probably wasn’t (at least I hope so!). In reality, how could anyone expect Devoto to have the same venom and energy he spewed forth on Spiral Scratch 35 years ago? The end result came off with him sounding like a karaoke club singer. All good fun but following the blistering set of hit
    singles played by the ‘classic’ line-up I fail to see how it could ever have been anything other than an anti-climax. Glad to have witnessed it though.

    It’s gonna be interesting to see what happens next in the world of Buzzcocks. Most Buzzcocks fans are aware of the historic friction between Shelley and Diggle. It’s your standard love/hate relationship. When the two of them find a way of working together they
    often come up with something special. Based on the gigs I’ve seen them perform with the current rhythm section of Danny Farrant and Chris Remmington, I assumed they’d found a way to accommodate eachother. It was the quality of those recent gigs that convinced me the Back to Front shows had the potential to be something really special.

    To summarise, I genuinely enjoyed the show. Well worth the ticket price to see the classic line-up performing the hits. Especially pleased to see the Garvey and Maher rhythm section in action once again – they were truly impressive. I’m not familiar with most of the songs that were played in the opening ‘current line-up’ set, which by the way, went on far too long! Poor sound quality didn’t help either.

    Diggle needs to see the error of his ways. I’ve seen him perform in recent years and can vouch for the fact he can definitely be an asset to the band in a live situation. I hope Shelley and Diggle and whoever else is involved can work things out because it’d be a real shame to deprive future audiences the chance of seeing a band with such a great back catalogue of classic songs. In essence, Diggle fucked up. It’s a shame he had to do it in front of such a big crowd on such an important occasion. But it ain’t the end of the world. If I were his manager I’d fine him a few weeks wages, keep him off the sherbert and shandy, tell him to prioritise the tunes over the rock star posing and not to diss those around him who created the legend that is Buzzcocks.

    • I was going to write my own review of the Brixton show (which I flew in from L.A. to see) but Dan_J summed up my own thoughts to a ‘T’. Diggle was a wanker, Maher was astonishing, Garvey was happy, Pete was steady, the classic lineup gob-smackingly good, Devoto an anti-climax (but still glad I saw him/them together).

  46. thats what steve has been doing for years, always gives it all on stage. over the top at manchester for sure.he was so drunk,but was fun. london all round was much tighter show. john and steveg haven’t played on stage in 20 years just amazing. you want shoe gazing bores not gonna happen.

  47. Something that hasn’t been mentioned is the fact that Diggle at least was having problems with his monitors all night at the Manchester gig. It was clear that not only could he not hear the rest of the band properly, he couldn’t hear himself properly at times as well. Maybe other member had similar problems, which would explain Shelley starting the wrong song in the last set.

  48. I had the benefit of several listens to an illicit recording as well as having been at the gig and I have to say it wasn’t as ropey as people are saying. Sure, Diggle was hyper, but the first set goes by really well – I didn’t recognise a single song, but I’ve really got to like nearly all of them. You can hear a difference with the second, classic, line-up – there’s a great aggression in the playing. The songs sound great. I’d be curious to know how long Howard spent rehearsing with the others, because the “1976” portion of the show (five short songs) was ragged as hell – but all the more invigorating for it. What actually happened with I Can’t Control Myself was that Pete kept starting it and singing the “Ba-ba-bas” but Howard was under the impression they were playing Friends ‘veOf Mine (understandably, as they were still doing Spiral Scratch). After four or five false starts, a couple of which lasted up to a minute without either realising what was going on, and included John coming out from behind the drumkit to clue Pete in, they finally played Friends, then Can’t as a sort of encore. No complaints from me whatsoever – it was a historic gig, and if you want soulless perfection go and see Coldplay. I’ll take the Buzzcocks, 1976, Eighties or present day, warts and all.

  49. […] came Johns review of The Buzzcocks Apollo show. Then Amy Britton chimed in with a different perspective. Now, […]

  50. Other opinions are available – but I think the Buzzcocks just kept going too long. It’s now over given that Pete is RIP but obviously the cracks were showing as 60 something men played forty year old songs for the twenty thousandth time. For what it’s worth I saw them on the Trade Test Transmissions tour and they were brilliant and Diggle gave it the full Pete Townshend back then.


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