Old punks never die - they just fade away, eh? The Buzzcocks (along with the likes of the Stranglers, the Damned and Stiff Little Fingers are certainly not showing such signs of fading away. It's now nearly 27 years on since the release of their self-financed 'Spiral Scratch' EP back in 1976 and Pete Shelley and co are still going strong and currently touring with what many consider to be their best LP since their halcyon days of the 70's.

Quite fitting then that they kick-off proceedings with old favourite 'Boredom' from their seminal debut EP. The four-song salvo that follows from the 'Another Music In A Different Kitchen' LP - in the form of 'Fast Cars','I Don't Mind', 'Love Battery'and 'Autonomy' -shows how their melodramatically camp take on the trials and tribulations of human relationships haven't dated one bit. Meanwhile a spanking version of 'Oh Shit' shows how they, like fellow Mancunians the Smiths, were almost incapable of writing a B-side.

It's easy to forget that the Buzzcocks reformed back in 1989 after a hiatus of eight years and, more incredibly, that the current incarnation has, to coin a phrase, been going steady for nearly ten years. Joining original members Steve Diggle and Shelley are Tony Barber on bass, a blonde spiky-topped Jools Holland look-a-like who's every bit the part with his designer-punk zipped string vest and tattoos, and the rock-solid Philip Barker on drums. Of the founder members, time appears to have been a little kinder on Diggle than it has Pete Shelley, who tonight surprisingly communicates very little with the audience between songs. To reality there is no "in between songs" as they rattle through no fewer than 26 songs.

The set's high point has to be the Diggle-penned 'Harmony in my Head'-a killer tune - and an abject lesson in how to write a direct three-minute punk-pop song. Having softened up the large and enthusiastic audience of mainly thirty-somethings with the soundtrack of their adolescence years, they deftly slip in a hefty slice of the eponomously-titled new LP, including latest single 'Jerk', into the set. While not perhaps quite as immediate, the newer songs sit comfortably, both pace and melody-wise, with the older material. The only minor gripe tonight is the sound. The decibel level is uncomfortable to say the least, rendering Barber's bass lines as inaudible distorted fuzz.

They finish the set with a two-song blitz of another of their classic B-sides in the shape of bedroom anthem 'Noise Annoys' and the excellent 'I Believe', a prime example of Shelley's lyrical directness at it's best. While they don't play arguably their most famous song 'Promises' not too many people are complaining. There's still time for an encore including the masturbation fixated 'Orgasm Addict', the ridiculously sublime 'Ever Fallen in Love' and the more obscure but no less meritorious 'Why She's the Girl for the Chain Store'.









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Commenting On: Sheffield Leadmill, 12/4/2003 - Buzzcocks








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