Reviews of shows I've been to (and maybe you have too!)

The Buzzcocks @ Filmore East at Irving Plaza (5/13/10)

Punk does not age well.  “Hope I die/before I get old”, “I want to be/anarchy”, “You think it’s funny/turning rebellion into money”: kinda lose their bite when sung by 50-somethings.  Even less convincing are the naive love songs of sexual frustration; I mean, wouldn’t hearing The Boys play “First Time” now just come off as kitschy?  So the prospect of seeing the Buzzcocks, master proprietors of teenage heartache, would seem more likely to lead to embarrassment than enjoyment.  Yet the promise of seeing a seminal band perform its first two albums was too much to resist.  And so there we were, at the Filmore at Irving Plaza, cheering on Pete Shelley and Steve Diggle (along with their anonymous rhythm section) as they spun off catchy song after catchy song.  Opening with their first single, “Boredom”, and then continuing straight into the tracks from Another Music in a Different Kitchen, the hits came fast and without interruption.

It took the crowd a few songs to get warmed up (thanks in no part to a lame opening band), but by the time “I Don’t Mind” got going, everyone was straining to stretch every possible syllable from “miiiiiiind”.  While Shelley’s falsetto voice has maintained well over the years, Diggle’s growl has surprisingly lessened, diluting the strength of his lead spotlights.  Thankfully, his Townsend-esque stage manner, complete with windmills and feedback, remains intact.  A brief drum solo led the transition into “Love Bites”, by which time the crowd was fully energized.  The sound from where we stood seemed a little off, and my earplugs blocked out the higher-pitched notes, making tracks like “Ever Fallen In Love (With Someone You Shouldn’t’ve)?” hard to discern from the initial notes.  But these problems were easily forgotten once the chorus kicked in, and everyone sang along in harmony.  The band energetically rolled through song after song, and the ridiculousness of middle-aged men singing songs like “Sixteen” was easily forgotten thanks to their catchiness.  The crowd was the usual mix of aging punksters and younger hipsters, with a leather jacket serving as the common bridge.  A minimal mosh pit and a few crowd surfers were the only signs of a punk show, surprising given the free-flowing alcohol.

The only disappointing, and completely unexpected, moment came midway through “E.S.P.”, when the band stopped mid-song as Shelley was forced to read an announcement from the police concerning a suspicious vehicle parked out front.  The recent failed bombing in Times Square was on everyone’s mind as the band restarted the song, and I feared that all of the energy would be sucked out of the building.  Thankfully, both band and crowd quickly reconnected, and finished off the main set with the same fervor that had been present earlier.  The encore brought the band’s non-album singles out from hiding and sent the crowd into delirium, with “Harmony in My Head”, “Love You More”, “Promises” and of course “What Do I Get?” requiring maximum participation on the chorus parts.  Fittingly, the band finished with “Orgasm Addict”, its romping ode to teenage nymphomania, masturbation, and cum stains.  Timeless.

Set List:

  1. Boredom
  2. Fast Cars
  3. No Reply
  4. You Tear Me Up
  5. Get on Our Own
  6. Love Battery
  7. Sixteen
  8. I Don’t Mind
  9. Fiction Romance
  10. Autonomy
  11. I Need
  12. Moving Away From the Pulsebeat
  13. Real World
  14. Ever Fallen In Love (With Someone You Shouldn’t’ve)
  15. Operator’s Manual
  16. Nostalgia
  17. Just Lust
  18. Sixteen Again
  19. Walking Distance
  20. Love Is Lies
  21. Nothing Left
  22. E.S.P.
  23. Late for the Train

Encore:

  1. Harmony In My Head
  2. Promises
  3. Love You More
  4. What Do I Get?
  5. Orgasm Addict
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