OF all the original punk bands from the 1970s still on the go, The Buzzcocks are, without doubt, the most dignified.
Liquid Room, Edinburgh
Star rating: * * *
They’re not after the filthy lucre, they don’t act like pre-historic dinosaurs with bad backs, nor do they live off some obscure, one-off single, either.
Recently, the group’s original line-up reconvened for a couple of big-venue gigs in London and Manchester.
However, it’s in the smaller, sweatier clubs like the Liquid Room – where you can see the whites of the band’s eyes and feel the thud of the music hit you square in the chest – that you can properly appreciate one of the most successful, entertaining and influential punks there ever was.
This gig, though, saw original ‘cocks Pete Shelley and Steve Diggle revert to their regular and distinctly younger, rhythm section of Danny Farrant (drums) and Chris Remmington (bass), charging through almost 20, three-minute songs.
Each tune lasted about 90 seconds or five minutes depending on how fast it was played or for how long Diggle’s flamboyant stage antics went on.
The risk of boredom (one of The Buzzcocks’ earliest songs, by the way), however, was about as likely as finding any old punks in the crowd who still had any hair left on their head.
With well-known songs flying past so fast, then (Autonomy, Promises, Fast Cars) – every one of them reminding the audience of certain key points in their teenage past – the whiff of nostalgia in the venue didn’t so much tickle your nostrils, it singed the hair at the roots.
Pete Shelley’s camp whine and vulnerable lyrics might have struggled to penetrate the noise of Diggle’s chainsaw guitar on occasion.
But he’s the perfect foil for his co-chief who, also aged 57, could show musicians half his age a thing or three about confident showmanship.
Windmilling in a Pete Townshend fashion, you got the feeling he might self-implode if he stood still for longer than a second.
Finishing up with the classic Buzzcocks songs Ever Fallen In Love (With Someone You Shouldn’t’ve) and Orgasm Addict, Shelley flashed a broad smile at a couple standing in the wings.
Punk’s not dead, then – it’s merely grinning.