Live Music Review: The Buzzcocks at Rock City

10 October 16 words: Hazel Ward
"Every generation needs a soundtrack for revolution, even if the revolution sputters out under the weight of its own ideals"
Buzzcocks Review

Punk survivors: The Buzzcocks - Photo by Leone Collinane

So it’s apt that a lot of classic punk bands are doing anniversary tours about now. Going to a gig on The Buzzcocks 40th anniversary tour is like being thrust back into the past – or maybe having the past brought forward. It’s a night where people can believe music has the power to influence the political world for one more moment. The crowd is thick with a proper lot of old-school punks that look like they’ve escaped from a 1970’s issue of NME, but there are plenty of younger fans who clearly appreciate the band’s greatness.

Before The Buzzcocks, The Outliners start us off by playing heavy punk with a touch of thrash and nostalgia for the zenith of punk. Then Headsticks bang out some melodic punk with political and social bite, and manage to get the milling crowd ramped up and focused on more than their beer by involving us in a rousing yell for revolution that would melt even the most stone-hearted cynic’s heart temporarily. 

The Buzzcocks, on the other hand, are there solely for the music, allowing songs from their vast back catalogue to speak for them, with songs all the way from debut Another Music in a Different Kitchen (1978) through to the present. They appear on stage without preamble and head straight into the hits including Fast Cars, Autonomy, and People are Strange Machines, with Pete Shelley and Steve Diggle sharing vocal duties. It takes the band a little while to warm up, but once Diggle gets into the zone he’s windmilling out those chords and posturing like the legend he is.

You already know which song got the biggest reaction – it’s been covered time and again, and heard everywhere from a Kia ad to Shrek 2, something that’s had some fans loudly complaining about selling out. Thing is, the moment those crunchy guitars start in, Ever Fallen in Love (With Someone You Shouldn't've) sounds just as fresh and exciting as the first time you heard it. They may not be part of the political music landscape any more, but in their songs they’ve still got it.

The Buzzcocks were at Rock City on Saturday 8 October 2016.

The Buzzcocks website

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