April 20, 2015 Buzzcocks spark excitement Irving Plaza, NYC 4-16-15
When looking at the landscape of Punk Rock history, chances are one of the first names that come to mind are England’s Buzzcocks. Originally formed back in 1976, the band, out of Manchester, has built a legacy on a perfect unity of Pop and Punk, thus making them one of the most important and influential bands from the British New Wave Movement. Paving the way for many bands to follow, Buzzcocks have released nine studio records through the years, with their most recent being November 2014’s The Way. Having visited North America prior to the new album’s release, the band return in the Spring of 2015 to play three East Coast dates; including New York, New Jersey, and Maryland. A brief but welcomed visit, on Thursday April 16th, the lineup of Pete Shelley (vocals /guitars), Steve Diggle (vocals /guitars), Chris Remington (bass), and Danny Farrant (drums) made their way to Irving Plaza in Manhattan for opening night of their back to back stint.
First to the stage was the Brooklyn, New York band named Otherworldly Things. A relatively new act, Otherworldly Things consist of Jim Browne (vocals/guitars), Kevin Hudson (drums), Matt Revie (guitars/vocals), and Jason Binnik (bass/vocals). Fresh to the ears of those who arrived early, the band took a Garage Rock sound and combined it with a Punk Rock sensibility as they played original tunes like “Groovy Explosions (Psychedelic Sky).” Working out the kinks and performing a strong set of catchy music, Otherworldly Things made a strong impression in their first live performance ever. Be sure to check out more from this band as they continue to grow.
Next on tap was direct support for Buzzcocks, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania band Residuels. Also a newer band, they have played alongside Black Lips, Kurt Vile, The Stranglers, Allah-Las, Destruction Unit, as well as Brian Jonestown Massacre in 2014, and appeared at SXSW in Austin, Texas this past March. Lead by vocalist/guitarist Justin Pittney, the band came out with a well-crafted Rock sound as they played original tunes. Expressing a strong emotion for the songs they performed, Irving Plaza clearly was engaged by the band’s flair and were seen bobbing their heads. Mixing in a cover of Iggy Pop’s “I Got A Right,” Residuels put on a solid show that any fan of classic Garage Rock would enjoy. There latest single “Valley of Fire” is out now and is also available in a limited Cassingle.
Treated to fun opening acts, Irving Plaza was packed from front to back in anticipation for Buzzcocks. Having last visited the city on September 6, 2014, this time around their album The Way has been out a few months, giving fans a chance to dig into the first studio album from the five-piece since 2006’s Flat-Pack Philosophy. With a nice mix of generations on hand, it was clear to see the reach this pioneering band; and a father with his son were even spotted wearing matching Buzzcocks t-shirts. Whether one grew up spinning the records of Buzzcocks or another discovered the band through research, the blanketed consensus is this is a band that must be seen live.
Greeted by a round of cheers, long-time members Shelley and Diggle walked out relatively calmly with Remington on stage right, as well as Farrant behind the kit. Catching all by surprise, moments after their entrance they rocketed into “Boredom,” flowing into “Fast Cars” and “I Don’t Mind.” Like a man possessed, Diggle bounced around in youthful fashion holding his guitar high, swinging his strumming arm to the sky, and having a blast. Seamlessly plugging in new energized songs like “Keep on Believing” and “People Are Strange Machines,” before another oldie, “Autonomy,” the band had the floor of Irving Plaza moving constantly, as well as singing to each word. Shelley ‘s unique voice shined as bright as ever as his intensity and inflection matched the heaviness of the entire ensemble’s output. Taking a moment to say hello to the New York audience, chatter was minimal as Buzzcocks continued to move full-speed ahead with “What Ever Happened To?,” new album title track “The Way,” “Why She’s the Girl From the Chainstore,” and “Sick City Sometimes.”
Having already covered a generous amount of material from their discography, the adrenaline rush the band provided during the second half of their set was unstoppable. Bringing back fond memories of their unforgettable 1979 release Singles Going Steady, their loud, ruckus attack featured songs like “Why Can’t I Touch You?,” “Noise Annoys,” and “Promises.” Not to be overlooked, The Way tunes including “Third Dimension,” “It’s Not You,” and “Chasing Rainbows/Modern Times” equally provoked a positive reaction from the audience. Diggle showed no signs of fatigue as he continued to entertain with vivid theatrics on stage and provided a thick distorted, but melodic guitar tone with Shelley. The two musicians clearly have a chemistry together, partnering up as long as they have, and it could be seen when they exchanged a few laughs throughout the set. Rounding out the irresistible Punk vibe, the band’s sound was filled out by powerful drumming of Farrant and bass of Remington which really stood out during “Love You More” and the finale of “I Believe.” Having the entire room chanting in unison “oh oh” through the first of the two tracks and “There is no love in this world anymore” for the latter, one would think they were transported back to the glory days of a Punk Rock show. Walking off the stage one by one, only leaving Farrant keeping the beat going along with the crowd singing, the set came to an end with everyone asking for one more song.
Responding quickly, Buzzcocks came out for not just one more song, but five more, leading off with the catchy newbie “In The Back.” It was a perfect way to introduce the encore filled with vocal hooks and guitar chops everyone devoured. Gifting the gracious audience with “Harmony In My Head,” Diggle put on a stellar performance, leading on vocals before the signature high-pitched singing of Shelley on “What Do I Get?” Perhaps one of the most synonymous tracks associated with the band, “Ever Fallen in Love (With Someone You Shouldn’t’ve)” had fans moving even more vigorously before climaxing with “Orgasm Addict.”
Buzzcocks live up to their name as being one of the most energized bands in the world. Their ability to fire through a set at ease, while rattling the cages of everyone around them, is astounding. To see them live is a reminder of how special the raw emotion of Punk Rock is and how it will never die, so long as Buzzcocks and bands from their generation are around. Their tour picks back up in the UK May 21st and continues through October. Thankfully for New Yorkers, they made the special trip across the Atlantic Ocean for a night no one will soon forget.