This photo is not from Saturday night's concert at the Republik, but Steve Diggle was wearing the exact same shirt. It struck me at the time that it looked rather like a pyjama shirt and with the 7:30 start to a Saturday night show, I thought that maybe it was a sign that the Buzzcocks were going to bow to the realities of the decades that had passed since they cemented their role as influential punk innovators and go for a laid-back Muzak approach. NOT SO!
The show actually started earlier than the stated 7:30 time, which I have certainly never seen happen before, with Dollyrots pleading to a still small audience to get off their seats and come down to the pit. Dollyrots played a long set and they were energetic enough, but ultimately not all that interesting. Fairly standard punk pop. The frontwoman was obviously trying to tap into some aspect of punk sensibility by repeatedly calling the audience pussies, but it all felt like so much posturing. The continual namedropping of Blackheart Records, followed by a cover of Bad Reputation, sort of confirmed that suspicion.
The Buzzcocks, however, were the real thing. Granted Pete Shelley and Steve Diggle were the only two original members, and, as the RO noted, the rhythm section looked like they were 14 years old, but they played like they have been playing together their entire lives. And for a couple of old guys, one in a pyjama shirt, the other in a giant patchwork clown-inspired button down, their energy certainly belied the years. At times I really felt like I was in 1970's Manchester, especially during the rather limited banter, where I could barely understand a word that was said.
As could be expected, it was a very mixed crowd at the Republik. We had a perch up on the third level, from where we could look down upon many bald heads thrashing in front of the stage. Not shaved bald heads either, I am talking about a healthy representative of legitimate male pattern baldness. And there were more than a couple of matronly hips noted gyrating alongside the young hipsters in attendance.
It made for a really nice mix of people. As we occupied one of the few tables in the area, plenty of people used our table as a place to lean against and to park their drinks, including the smelly drunk guy and his nice friend who kept offering to buy us drinks, and the muscular beMohawked guy who just had to show me the photos that he had captured of the concert.
And what a fine concert it was. It was loud, it was joyful, it was high octane. My ears were still ringing the next day, and that hasn't happened to me after a concert for quite some time now. It was great to see Another Music in a Different Kitchen and Loves Bites performed in their entirety. As can be expected, people went nuts when the Buzzcocks played Orgasm Addict and I Don't Mind and especially when they launched into Ever Fallen in Love, but my personal favourite of the evening was What Do I Get. There wasn't a single person who didn't sing along.
The concert was over by 10:00, and Pete Shelley and Steve Diggle may very well have headed back to the hotel room to watch a little telly and drink some cocoa, but by god they earned it. There was a lot of love flowing back and forth from the stage to the crowd at the Republik on Saturday night, with Diggle and Shelley obviously enjoying reaching out and touching the outstretched hands. Not only did the Buzzcocks put on a hell of a highly energetic show, but they restored my faith in the relevance of musical icons. Well done, Buzzcocks!