The Buzzcocks: This Ain’t No Nostalgia Act

By Kim Bellware in Arts & Entertainment on May 25, 2010 8:40PM

For bands who consider touring after their group’s golden era has passed (by say, 30 to 40 years), take a few notes from The Buzzcocks playbook:

  • Give the people what they want: the songs that made your fans love you in the first place.
  • Play with enough energy to match or best groups half your age.
  • Break some shit up (just to prove you’ve still got it in you).

As evidenced by their raucous, sold-out show at the Double Door Sunday night, The Buzzcocks may be getting on in years, but that hasn’t blunted much of the punk legends’ good-natured aggression and spot-on playing. And while the Double Door was about as comfortable as a hothouse in July, that didn’t stop the packed body-to-body crowd from moshing, jumping and throwing devil horns as the band played through their seminal albums Love Bites and Another Music in a Different Kitchen.

The nearly 90-minute set saw little slowdown from the band, especially from founding member and guitarist Steve Diggle and drummer, Danny Farrant. Both were crucial in kicking the already high energy into overdrive, while also keeping the intensity from dropping off too much when guitarist and singer Pete Shelley’s seemed to visibly wane. Their dynamic bridged some of the less incendiary moments during numbers like “Love Battery” and “Get on Our Own,” which were the same times when we occasionally felt like Shelley was phoning one in.

Working through the majority of Another Music… before hitting Love Bites, predictably, the high points came during the most anticipated tracks. On “I Don’t Mind,” the band was clearly enjoying themselves as they caught the first big wave of the audience’s roaring approval, while “Boredom” and “Ever Fallen In Love” stirred up the wildest and sweatiest displays of rocking out.

It was tremendously enjoyable to hear just how good The Buzzcocks sounded, which is a credit not just to their well-kept vocals and playing, but to the enduring quality of their songs (when done right, teen angst, love, loss and defiance are pretty evergreen themes). The band was so hard charging it made us wonder what they would have been like to watch back in the ‘70s. Diggle in particular brimmed with a stirring “don’t give a fuck” rawness—guitar solos, dramatic poses, mic smashing and all. At one point a young woman from the audience broke onstage to grip Diggle in several (almost disturbingly aggressive) embraces and kisses.

When the band returned to the stage for their encore, more than a few shirts open, the levels went through the roof for “Orgasm Addict” and “What Do I Get,” the crowd joyfully thrashing and singing into a furor. Diggle destroyed a mic stand in several whacks before leaving the stage, and Farrant stayed behind for a bring-the-house-down drum solo. From The Buzzcocks, it was just what we expected—and exactly what we wanted.