The Buzzcocks - So I am sitting in an empty apartment with a patio table and chair along with an inflatable mattress as my cat is looking at me like I am crazy for getting rid of our furniture. Painters, carpet installers, and repairmen to come to get the place ready to sell. Those who know me can guess my mood will be rather dark, but I have one of my favorite bands coming across the ocean tonight to play for me, so off I go. And as it turned out, perhaps the Buzzcocks were the perfect pick me up tonight, as there is a lot of melancholy and romantic thoughts of the past in their music. But they carry on and are still on their musical journey on this 40th Anniversary tour.
I have seen them previously for some great shows at the Black Cat, but was looking forward to the bigger sound they would generate tonight at the 9:30. I was not disappointed. The guitars were roaring all night with room for the leads, such as the two-note solo in 'Boredom' which opened the show as it opened their recording career back on the Spiral Scratch ep from January, 1977. The set was brilliant, as you really can't go wrong with the many great songs they have put out over the years. The classics still sound great as Pete Shelley and Steve Diggle continue to display solid vocal tones that stay with the guitars. 'Moving Away from the Pulsebeat' was exceptional here with the throbbing bass and classic drum line creating a powerful drone for the guitars to torment. Kyle was with me (not for the first time at a Buzzcocks show--see his review following mine) and commented in amazement at how good that song sounded. And I don't care how many times I hear the encore set of What Do I Get/Orgasm Addict/Ever Fallen in Love/Harmony in my Head, it will move me every time.
There is always one negative at every Buzzcocks show I attend. They always manage to draw out this bitter old man in me. There music is so catchy and well written that I relive my thoughts of how upset I have always been that they have not had a gigantic career. Many of my favorite punk bands rightfully belong as critically darlings and cult bands (some more belatedly than they deserved), but there were several that should have broken to world wide chart topping status. The Buzzcocks are at the top of that list. But it's 40 years and they seem really happy, especially Steve Diggle who you will have to manhandle to keep him off the stage. The many Buzzcocks fans can be assured that they are every bit as brilliant as the early days and of course their songs will live on for a very long time after they are gone.
Quote of the Night: Steve Diggle after handshaking everyone in the front row at the conclusion before finally heading off... "Brothers and Sisters! It's only rock'n'roll that will save the world. Me and You!"
And for Kyle's take:
BUZZCOCKS - RESIDUELS
By Kyle Schmitt
Residuels: A hardy crowd braved the forecasted yet non-existent “hardest rainfall in five years” to catch this Philadelphia-based three-piece. Residuels capably represent their brand of self-described “big, dumb rock n’ roll”, exemplified by the punchy guitar and screamed kiss-off of “You’re Gonna Miss Me”. On this tune and others, the group’s sound is driven by powerful drumming from Mike Cammarata. His battering style propels songs like “Ordinary,” on which singer/guitarist Justin Pittney warns his confidante, “We’ve kept this secret so long, that when the world finds out / They’re gonna try and tear us apart.” His lyrics and delivery invoke a man too tough and stubborn not to fight for a lost cause.
Buzzcocks: The punk legends played in front of a banner announcing their 40th year as a band, and they took the audience back to the start by opening with “Boredom” and “Fast Cars”. Just as welcome were less-celebrated gems such as “Totally From the Heart”, “Sick City Sometimes”, and “Moving Away From the Pulsebeat”. Singer/guitarist Pete Shelley provided a highlight with a gorgeous version of “You Say You Don’t Love Me”, which could have been a wistful Paul McCartney ballad from the mid-60s. Buzzcocks’ final ten songs rocketed up the crowd energy, especially on “Love You More” and “Promises”. Singer/guitarist Steve Diggle concluded the set with an effusive “Harmony in My Head”, shouting the joy back at his fans as the best pop-punk band ever said goodnight to DC.
I saw editor David Hintz wearing a big smile as Buzzcocks finished their set and encore, and he remarked that he got an even better pick-me-up from the show than he expected. I’m grateful for David’s support in allowing me to write for DC Rock Live the past several years. It’s been an honor to help chronicle the District’s music scene and keep what amounts to almost a daily journal of rock music here. Thank you, David, and good luck with your next chapter.