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Monday, November 07, 2016

LIVE REVIEW: The Buzzcocks still going strong after 40 years

“Punk's not dead!” has been the defiant rallying cry for many years now. Judging by tonight's turnout in the Limelight, it's true: old punks don't die, they merely wait in stasis until gigs such as this one come along.

And it was certainly a biggie tonight: the fortieth anniversary tour of punk royalty The Buzzcocks.

First up was a wee bit of celtic punk in the form of Ireland's Blood or Whiskey, who, in true punk fashion, emerge onstage at precisely the time they were meant to be finishing up.

A bouncy and boisterous set follows as the room steadily gets fuller and busier.

Combining the sounds of their clear heroes the Pogues, the Clash and the Dropkick Murphys, they certainly set toes tapping and heads bobbing during their spirited, albeit slightly predictable, half hour. Set closer 'Poxy Pub' earns them the most audience participation, and noisiest cheer.

With an impatient air hanging heavily over the crowd, they are more than ready for their heroes The Buzzcocks when they finally gather onstage at 10pm, and the roar that arises is deafening.

Launching into 1989's 'Boredom' they immediately impress: there may be more than a few miles on their collective clocks but they can still rock your f**king socks off.

Tight, blistering and loaded with attitude, this is proper punk rock.

That's not to say they were ever a one trick pony, as there are several influences audible throughout their music.

Unlike most UK punk bands, the Buzzcocks took on board the sound of American punk, as well as pop, straight up rock and even a bit of metal: quite a range and depth of sound from 'just' a punk band.

Both guitarists – Pete Shelley and Steve Diggle – share vocal duties, as well as both chatting to the crowd. Diggle in particular seems to be having an absolute ball, with a huge smile plastered across his face as he joyfully leaps around the stage.

He is also a frankly terrific guitarist, ranging from wailing solos to crunchy riffs and gleeful jamming. He also takes time to introduce several tracks, such as the song that “changed [our] lives forever” ('Sick City Sometimes') and the title he wears on his tshirt ('Harmony In My Head').

That said, there is very little in the way of chit chat, with the band squeezing an epic twenty-one songs into their set. It's no wonder that Diggle takes a short rest towards the end, briefly sitting on the drum riser as he plays along with 'You Say You Don't Love Me', then comes back onstage for their encore sans jacket (it's rather warm!).

Said encore consists of four songs, which inevitably includes that song, their most famous, and the one that garners the biggest reaction of the night: yes, it's 'Ever Fallen In Love', a timeless masterpiece in punk rock, one which will never be forgotten by their adoring fans.

They wrap up with 'Harmony In My Head' before sincerely thanking the crowd (“Thank you very much, f**king fantastic” enthuses Diggle) and spending an impressive amount onstage following the end of the last drawn out note, handing out guitar picks and high fiving/shaking hands with people down the front.

Forty years is an astonishing feat for any band; for the Buzzcocks, who undoubtedly never, ever thought they would still be around in 2016, it's extra remarkable. That old rallying cry is true, then...

Review by Melanie Brehaut
Photos by Darren McVeigh
Reproduction by Written Permission Only

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