By John Curley
The most striking thing about The Buzzcocks’ greatest-hits set that they performed at Irving Plaza in New York City on Saturday, October 1st to mark their 40th anniversary was that it made those present realize just how many power-pop gems the Mancunians have produced over their four decades. And the songs were delivered at a frenetic pace, with barely a pause for breath before they tore into their next classic. Twenty-one songs were performed in The Buzzcocks’ 75 minutes onstage. The crowd moshing in front of the stage helped to create an amazing atmosphere for the show. The Buzzcocks are comprised of founding members Pete Shelley (guitar, vocals) and Steve Diggle (guitar, vocals) as well as Chris Remington (bass) and Danny Farrant (drums).
The Philadelphia-based trio Residuels opened the show. Unfortunately, I was delayed in getting to the venue and only heard the last minute or so of their final song. But the crowd did give them quite a hand at the end of their set.
The Buzzcocks took the stage promptly at 8:30 p.m. and ripped right into “Boredom.” The crowd was very much into it. This was followed by the short and sharp “Fast Cars.” The first huge reaction from the crowd of the night went to “I Don’t Mind.” It was as close to power-pop perfection as possible.
Diggle did the lead vocals and provided great guitar work on “People Are Strange Machines.” There was great interplay between Diggle and Shelley during “Autonomy,” which received a big cheer from the crowd. Diggle again took on lead-vocal duties on the terrific “Why She’s The Girl From The Chainstore.”
“Moving Away From The Pulsebeat” was another highlight of the show, and it featured fantastic drumming by Farrant. The extended version of “Nothing Left” featured both Diggle’s fantastic guitar work as well as his famous rock star poses. Is there a musician that enjoys their job more than Steve Diggle? I doubt it.
“Sick City Sometimes” and “It’s Not You” both got the crowd charged up. Then, the crowd erupted with the first chords to “Love You More,” and they sang along with the “Oh Ohhh!” bit. The band then segued into “Promises” which drove the crowd into a frenzy as many in the house sang along to the song at full volume. The mosh pit seemed to pick up steam with “Noise Annoys” as Diggle appeared to be egging the moshers on with his antics. “You Say You Don’t Love Me” got a massive reaction, as the crowd sang along and the mosh pit seemed to grow in size and become even more active. “Time’s Up” was a terrific way to end the main set, with the band feeding off of the crowd’s amazing energy as the mosh pit raged.
The brief interval between the main set and the encore seemed necessary to let the moshers settle down a bit and catch their breath. But as soon as The Buzzcocks returned to the stage, the mosh pit seemed larger than ever and the crowd danced and sang along to “What Do I Get?” The snarky “Orgasm Addict” made the mosh pit even more active. And “Ever Fallen In Love (With Someone You Shouldn’t’ve)” was incendiary and created further mayhem as the moshers grew more active and few crowd surfers took their chances.
The final song of the night, “Harmony In My Head,” was an extended version. Diggle and Shelley seemed to be having a blast performing the song as the crowd was going bonkers and singing along. At one point, Diggle picked up his mic stand and roamed the stage with it over his shoulders, pointing the mic end toward the crowd, and imploring them to sing along. Diggle was sporting a big grin as the mosh pit was going absolutely berserk. It was quite a sight to behold, and an absolutely brilliant end to the show. The band remained onstage for a few minutes after the conclusion of the show to shake hands with and high five members of the ecstatic crowd at the front of the stage.
Four decades have done nothing to dull The Buzzcocks’ edge. They remain a must-see act in concert. The New York City show was the finale of The Buzzcocks’ North American tour. They will be playing dates in the UK for the remainder of October. Full tour dates can be found at http://www.buzzcocks.com/site/livedates.html.
The Buzzcocks’ set list at Irving Plaza in New York City on Saturday, October 1st was as follows:
Totally From The Heart
I Don’t Mind
People Are Strange Machines
What Ever Happened To?
Why She’s A Girl From The Chainstore
Moving Away From The Pulsebeat
Sick City Sometimes
It’s Not You
Love You More
You Say You Don’t Love Me
What Do I Get?
Ever Fallen In Love (With Someone You Shouldn’t’ve)
Harmony In My Head