By John Curley
This year marks the 39th anniversary of The Buzzcocks’ founding, and the band is on the road to continue promoting their most recent album, The Way, which was released last year. Thursday night, April 16th found The Buzzcocks at New York City’s Irving Plaza. The show took place on the eve of guitarist / vocalist Pete Shelley’s 60th birthday, and the band celebrated that milestone by performing a scorching show that had the sold-out, packed crowd roaring (and a good bit of them moshing as well). The crowd in the area at the front of the stage were pogoing and moshing so frenetically that they appeared to be a surging sea of people. It was quite a sight to behold, and the crowd was a show unto itself. Guitarist / vocalist Steve Diggle, always an engaging performer and seemingly the happiest man in rock music, kept egging on the crowd with his slash-and-burn guitar lines and by repeatedly striking guitar-hero poses. The audience sang along with most of the songs with a full-throated roar, which, along with the maniacal mosh pit, created an incredible atmosphere for the show.
The Buzzcocks, performing before a large banner that featured the band’s logo in huge letters and the cover image of the band from The Way, kicked off their set with the triple threat of the classic songs “Boredom,” “Fast Cars,” and I Don’t Mind.” The mosh pit was already surging by the time the band finished playing “I Don’t Mind.” One would assume that crowd would chill out a bit when the new songs “Keep On Believing” and “People Are Strange Machines” were then performed, but that really wasn’t the case. The crowd appeared to be genuinely thrilled to be in the presence of British punk royalty, and they let their enthusiasm show with the moshing and pogoing.
The Irving Plaza performance featured a good mix of cherished Buzzcocks classics and new songs. Among the new songs performed at the show, “The Way,” “It’s Not You,” and “In The Back” were the standouts. They’re all sharp and tight in the classic Buzzcocks punky, power-pop mold.
As the band neared the end of the main set, they dug out one chestnut after another, including “Noise Annoys,” “You Say You Don’t Love Me,” “Promises,” and “Love You More.” The audience sing-a-longs seemed to get louder and more powerful with each song. The moshing grew more intense, and a few audience members were seen crowd surfing.
The Buzzcocks concluded the main set with an extended performance of “I Believe.” Shelley left the stage before the song ended and was quickly followed by Diggle, who left his guitar propped up in front of his amplifier. That caused a good bit of feedback. Left on the stage to complete the song, bassist Chris Remington and drummer Danny Farrant picked up the pace, with Farrant exhorting the crowd to sing even louder. I’m sure that quite a few fans walked out of the venue after the show quite hoarse.
After a brief break that allowed the moshers, pogoers, and crowd surfers to catch their breath, The Buzzcocks returned to the stage to begin their encore. After the terrific new song “In The Back,” it was all classic Buzzcocks: “Harmony In My Head,” “What Do I Get?,” “Ever Fallen In Love (With Someone You Shouldn’t’ve)?,” and “Orgasm Addict.” Diggle drove the moshers into a frenzy with his performance of “Harmony In My Head” as the pit got pretty intense and several crowd surfers had to be helped by venue security into the photographers’ pit in front of the stage, only to run right back into the scrum of the mosh pit again.
The Buzzcocks were onstage for 85 minutes, performing a 19-song main set followed by a five-song encore.
This East Coast swing by The Buzzcocks is quite brief, also featuring shows in Asbury Park, NJ and Baltimore, MD. The band will be the musical guest on NBC-TV’s Late Night With Seth Meyers on Monday, April 20th.
The Buzzcocks’ Irving Plaza show featured opening sets by two bands. First up were Otherworldy Things, a rock band from Brooklyn. I arrived at the venue after their set had finished, unfortunately, so I can’t report on it. The second band on the bill was Residuels, a punk trio from Philadelphia. Their hard-charging set was quite good, and it received an enthusiastic response from the crowd.
The Buzzcocks’ set list at their Irving Plaza show was as follows:
I Don’t Mind
Keep On Believing
People Are Strange Machines
Whatever Happened To…?
Why She’s The Girl From The Chainstore
Sick City Sometimes
Why Can’t I Touch It?
You Say You Don’t Love Me
It’s Not You
Chasing Rainbows / Modern Times
Love You More
In The Back
Harmony In My Head
What Do I Get?
Ever Fallen In Love (With Someone You Shouldn’t’ve)?