Patrick Widdess reports on The Buzzcocks – The Junction, Cambridge 29 January 2009

Buzzcocks logo

Known to one generation as a cutting-edge punk band and to the next as the name of a comedy-music panel game, Buzzcocks burst onto the scene in the late seventies making their name with punk pop classics such as ‘Ever Fallen in Love?' and ‘What Do I Get?' They went their separate ways in the 80s but reformed in the 90s to continue making records to critical acclaim.

For this tour they revisited the beginning of their career performing their first two albums Another Music in a Different Kitchen and Love Bites. This type of full album performance has become popular recently perhaps as a backlash to the digital age which has put an end to the LP and the convention of listening to albums track by track. This is now being revived by bands giving their live audiences the chance to hear their landmark recordings from start to finish as they were intended to be heard. Buzzcocks' first two albums contain some of the punk era's most enduring anthems and the whole records are witty, rebellious and energetic and have grown to be classics.

The band don't fuss about much and get on with performing the first half of Another Music... . They are proficient but luke warm. The audience listens in respectful silence. The show's billing as a track-by-track performance of their first two albums sets up the expectation of a step back in time to when Pete Shelley and the band were a new generation rising up against the establishment. The band are long past the days of anarchic youth in which the music was conceived. It still sounds good and worth hearing live but maybe not as part of a nostalgia trip. There is no need for the band to play as a retro act. They have continued to make new music in recent years and are a tight live outfit. They are living survivors of one of the most ground breaking movements in modern music and plenty of people want to share in that history. All they have to do is play ‘Ever Fallen in Love?' and a career spanning selection of songs which are as vibrant now as when they were first released.

After skipping the second half of Another Music... they move onto Love Bites and ‘Ever Fallen In Love?' gets the crowd singing. This album has a more mature sound and they start sounding less like a band from yesteryear. Songs like ‘Love is Lies' and ‘Late for The Train' sound practically new. The band have been slowly gaining momentum and after a mid set break they're ready to shift up a couple of gears. They return to play the songs they missed out in the first half and things start as they mean to carry on with ‘Orgasm Addict.' The energy builds as they transcend their background to simply become a great live act belting out song after song with passion that's infectious. The speakers throb, a mosh-pit forms and the atmosphere is what you would expect from a legendary punk band. During the last song guitarist Steve Diggle throws a mic and stand into the crowd. He motions to trash his guitar before gently handing it to a roadie and storms off. The other band members depart in more dignified fashion offering handshakes to eager fans in the front row. Punk's not dead, it just has trouble getting up in the morning. Long live the Buzzcocks!