Buzzcocks at The Kazimier. One of my favourite bands of all time, at one of my very favourite venues. In fact, the only time I have ever sat back and decided upon my Top 10 musical acts of all time (in February 2001), I put them in at number ten.
Back then it was already a nostalgia fest, as the band had split up in 1981, first reforming in 1989, with three of the classic four-man line-up in the band when I saw them back then – lead singer/guitarist Pete Shelley, lead guitarist Steve Diggle and Steve Garvey on bass, who left for a second time in 1992.
It seems as though The Smiths’ Mike Joyce drummed for them when I saw them all those years ago, but to be honest I have no recollection of that – somewhat surprisingly as that would have been the first time I ever saw one of that band in the flesh – a band I love(d) so much they came in at number four in that same list (that I really must try and update at some point).
I stopped by The Dispensary for a pint of Ossett’s Inception, before heading down to the Kaz in good time for support act Membranes, a band who confusingly use the definite article in the name of their website but not on their records.
Their set was almost entirely drawn from their latest album Dark Matter/Dark Energy, much of which I had already seen them play at Liverpool Sound City earlier this year. Back then I’d gone along to see them purely on the basis of their name, which I recognised from lead singer John Robb’s media omnipresence and from in-depth knowledge of band names of the post-punk era, despite never knowingly having heard a note of their music (though surely I’d been exposed to some via John Peel).
Bassist Robb retains his punk spirit with an impressive pseudo-mohican, hyperactively bouncing around the stage, and indeed off into the crowd for one song. He was a very engaging frontman, with the club setting suiting them better than the wider expanse of the Baltic stage at Sound City. Although part of the boost may have been due to me now knowing most of the songs, having picked up this year’s album in anticipation of this gig.
The rest of the band are Bilbo Baggins-esque ex-Gallon Drunk manager Nick Brown and Peter Byrchmore (formerly of The Nightingales) on guitar, and drummer Rob Haynes, previously of yet another wonderful post-punk combo A Witness.
The new album mixes their original post-punk sound with a load of Krautrock, and is some kind of concept album (though not in a bad way) about the birth and death of the universe. Heavy. However, it’s really a very good album and one I’m very glad to have acquired.
Robb was an engaging presence on stage, revealing that Membranes had been banned from Ormskirk since 1987, a state of affairs that still continues. He led a surprisingly charming singalong to Hum Of The Universe, one of the best numbers off the latest album.
After the one (?) oldie, Myths And Legends, from 1983’s debut mini-album Crack House, the set ended with 21st Century Man. I ended my review of their Sound City set by saying “I might well investigate a compilation of their old stuff instead” (of buying the new album). Well, I still need to get hold of some of the original songs, but I’m happy to have got the new album, and very pleased to have seen them twice now this year.
I decided to try a bottle of Toxteth IPA while enjoying the DJ spinning much of Wire’s classic debut album Pink Flag, continuing the intelligent punk theme of the evening. It wasn’t a long wait before Buzzcocks hit the stage – Diggle and the rather portly Shelley now ably backed by this millennium’s additions Chris Remmington on bass and drummer Danny Farrant.
The set kicked off with a straight burst of early classics, starting with Boredom, probably the best track off their seminal Spiral Scratch ep, the first ever self-released punk record in the UK. Then came four tracks off 1978’s debut album Another Music In A Different Kitchen.
A few newer tracks were scattered throughout the set, with I think all of the new ones being Diggle numbers, perhaps to counteract the fact that almost all the oldies were Shelley songs, reflecting the songwriting bias in their catalogue over the years.
There was a classic minimalist Diggle guitar solo on Nothing Left from Love Bites before one of the real highlights of the night for me in the largely instrumental Moving Away From The Pulsebeat, that saw me chucking myself about, pretty much on my own, with Farrant’s drums a near match for the studio original’s by John Maher.
The mosh pit truly took off with the next number, Noise Annoys, the b-side from 1978 single Love You More. After another new song sung by Diggle, the band returned to past glories, ending with the deathless classic What Do I Get?, their first charting single, that reached the heady heights of #37 in February 1978.
They fairly quickly came back on stage for a cracking three-song encore, as Steve Diggle finally got to sing one of his songs from back in the day, Harmony In My Head, followed by Ever Fallen In Love (With Someone You Shouldn’t’ve) (later covered fairly ineffectively, but very successfully chart-wise, by Fine Young Cannibals) and then the sublime Orgasm Addict.
I was not alone in being sweat-drenched by the end of the evening. It was fabulous to see them again after so many years, and I will certainly try and see them again next time they come through town.
I wore my red broken heart Buzzcocks t-shirt, and there were a few others of theirs on show on the night. Other band tees I spotted included Evil Blizzard, War Dance, Ramones, The Jesus & Mary Chain, The Heartbreakers, The Damned, Trojan Records and, somewhat incongruously, Fleetwood Mac.
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Here is some of the music from the night on Spotify: