buzzcocks mcr by big cliveBuzzcocks/PINS  Manchester Ritz: Live Review

 Manchester Ritz Live Review

Oct 2017

Live Review

photos : Alex Staszko and Andrew Twambley

Pete Shelley once sang ‘nostalgia for an age yet to come’ and his wry smile as he thunders through yet another set of Buzzcocks eternal buzzsaw pop jukebox shows that he still understands the pop art dichotomy. The most curious and yet the most brilliant of bands, Buzzcocks started everything in our culture. They took punk from London and away from the clutches of the scheming managers and gave it to the world, they write three stunning albums of inventive guitar thrills that expanded the template in all directions, they invented indie, they gave us the modern notion of DIY and they were the spark that started the Manchester scene

In 2017 they are a roving jukebox delivering those perfect hits from that time with an occasional new song to remind us that they ever lost their creative edge. They seem to tour endlessly playing out their own personal theatre on stages with Steve Diggle still the high decibel epitome of sweat-shod rock n roll strutting the stage with his gruff melodic rushes and the heartfelt joy of a man who is still in love with rock n roll and, Pete Shelley the art-punk poet with his sugar-sweet voice and heartbreak songs and the rhythm section holding it all down with both drums and bass always a very key part to Buzzcocks.

Every song is a rush of energy and of perfect melody, every one a moment in time, a reminder of that triumphant procession of perfect singles that are perhaps the most perfect machine gun of seven-inch guitar invention of the period. Boredom still opens the set with is zagging riff and perfect snark lyric, Orgasm Addict is still the perfect bedsit anthem and is framed tonight by a screen projecting 16 artful takes on Linder’s classic sleeve – the iconic piece of punk rock art. I Don’t Mind, What Do I Get – these songs are now national treasures as they flail away in the decibel wind tunnel that sometimes loses those wonderful subtleties that made them so perfect. Autonomy is a rhythmic monster, Harmony In My head is a great piece of Diggle vulnerability and perfect riffing and Ever Fallen In love is one of the greatest melodies in guitar pop history.

Buzzcocks are an exercise of just what can be done with guitar/bass and drums

Supporting tonight, PINS have morphed again into new terrain. Stripping away from the guitar-driven … they have added an electronic pulse to their sound that crosses their melodic wit with a sometimes nod to Suicide and a 21st-century twist of dirty disco and post-punk pulses. It’s a brave move and one that is paying creative dividends with more space for their vocal interplay, leaving the strong vocals of Faye,  out front and not lost in the guitar skree that was key to their sound before. they still retain that strident melodic force of The Breeders and Sleater Kinney and that generation of American bands but have somehow found their own space to do it in and are perched agonizingly close to the final breakthrough that so many in their hometown of Manchester have been willing them towards for so long.


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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. Seems vaguely surreal that the band that put the Pistols on stage at the Free Trade Hall and unwittingly invented 1980s counterculture are still touring. Had the pleasure to see them in 2008 to an only vaguely interested festival crowd. It was almost sad to see them follow John Shuttleworth a pony in search of a trick if ever I saw one.


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