I saw Buzzcocks play once before, in Toronto in 2006, and since that gig I doubt I listened to a single note of their music. Oh, I'm sure I heard a song or two on the radio at some point, but I never sat down to listen to any of their music, never thought to myself how long it had been since I gave "Singles Going Steady" a spin and decided to dig it out. On the other hand, I probably listened to Pete Shelley's "Homosapien" about a million times over the past few years. That's because it is and will continue to be the best song released by a Buzzcock.
Now for the good news. The Toronto gig rocked, in fact, it was one of the best "surprisingly great" concerts I've ever seen. Could a bunch of guys in their 50's play this music with enough rapid-fire, manic energy to make the songs work? Well, they showed me, erasing any doubts about their abilities from the moment they took the stage to the moment they left it.
The expected norm is probably closer to what we saw from tonight's openers (Taklit? Will investigate ...). The histrionics of the singer just smacked of a guy going overboard to relive past new wave glories, although to be honest, he does still let out a hell of a scream.
The lines on Steve Diggle's face are slowly turning him into Keith Richards, and he's got the mannerisms to match. Judging purely by his looks, this grayer and heavier version of Pete Shelley should be teaching high school chemistry somewhere, although how his voice has managed to barely change in the past 30 years is one of those miracles of modern physiology. However, none of this comes off like a band trying to relive past glories because of one simple reason -- they rock so fucking hard. Harder, crazier, and more intense than the gig from five years ago (seeing them in a more intimate venue with better sound definitely helps). I can't envision that anyone would be fit to complain that they played for just under one hour (including encore) because how long can any human being keep up the pace of playing 20+ two-minute punk rock songs? And an encore of "Oh Shit"/"Ever Fallen In Love"/"Orgasm Addict" is almost impossible to beat, easily ensuring that everyone goes home happy and satisfied.
A surprisingly great gig, yet again. Next time I'll have to remember not to be so surprised.