|Steve Diggle & Pete Shelley|
British college student Howard Trafford posted a notice looking for musicians sharing a liking for The Velvet Underground's "Sister Ray." Fellow student Peter McNeish responded. Trafford renamed himself Howard Devoto, McNeish renamed himself Pete Shelley, and they recruited a series of drummers and bassists to form The Buzzcocks in 1975. Stabilized with bass guitarist Steve Diggle and drummer John Maher a year later, the Buzzcocks opened for The Sex Pistols in Manchester, England, and became among the leaders of the nascent British punk rock movement in 1976. Devoto left the band early on and Diggle joined Shelley as co-singer/songwriter/guitarist. After three successful albums, the Buzzcocks disbanded in 1981, but reunited several times beginning in 1989. Since 2008, the Buzzcocks consists of Shelley, Diggle, drummer Danny Farrant and bassist Chris Remington. The band's ninth studio album, The Way, was released in Great Britain in May 2014 but is not yet available in the United States.
At Webster Hall's Grand Ballroom tonight, the Buzzcocks stormed through 25 songs in 80 minutes. The set opened with "Boredom," a song from early in the band's career that announced punk's attitude through a musical minimalism of three high speed chords and a two-note guitar lead. Older songs "Fast Cars" and "I Don't Mind" and new songs "Keep on Believing" and "People Are Strange Machines" followed with very British-sounding pop vocal lines backed by a fast and pounding rhythm section. While the set was comprised mostly of older songs, the new songs were crafted from the same fabric. A handful of songs featured extended guitar solos, including "Nothing Left," but most were verse-chorus-repeat powered by high-octane rapid-fire guitar riffs. The formula carried the band through to the encores of "Harmony In My Head", "Ever Fallen in Love (With Someone You Shouldn't've)" and "Orgasm Addict." As one of the forefathers of the early punk rock scene, the Buzzcocks recreated a very authentic revival of a 35-year-old music revolution.
Visit the Buzzcocks at www.buzzcocks.com.