The Buzzcocks @ The Fillmore at Irving Plaza, NYC

Live Reviews | May 14th, 2010

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Date: May 13th, 2010
Band Link:
Talk about a show bombing! Last night, the Buzzcocks took a page from Echo & The Bunnymen and the Pixies and played through a complete album – namely, their first two – “Another Music in a Different Kitchen” and “Love Bites.” Overall, it wasn’t very successful. While I dig their first two albums and their smart, cynical, middle-finger take on punk itself (“Fast Cars” is about how they hate them – take that, Dictators!), I have to admit they contain weak tunes and ones that don’t translate well to the stage. I appreciate the idea of bands playing complete albums, but it does force unfortunate setlist choices, like “Love Is Lies” and “Late for the Train” over “I Believe,” “Everybody’s Happy Nowadays,” and “Why Can’t I Touch It?” Travesties.

Playing complete albums is the ultimate in fan service, but this was clearly a “Singles Going Steady” crowd. For much of the 23-track main set, fans stood around listlessly and confused while the Buzzcocks adequately performed great tunes like “I Need,” “Fiction Romance,” “Real World,” and “Sixteen Again.” You can imagine how dead the crowd felt during the extended post-punk instrumentals that pepper their second album.

The encore appropriately charged up the crowd and was worth the price of admission; it was an energetic set of “Harmony in My Head,” “Promises,” “Love You More,” “What Do I Get?” and “Orgasm Addict.” The band seemed to be more into their hits themselves, playing them with youthful gusto. A good time was had by all.

During the main set, the Buzzcocks stopped in the middle of “ESP” and asked if anyone owned a 1991 Oldsmobile with license plate number so-and-so. It was very strange, but we chalked it up to old, British punk cheeky humor. Maybe it was a little mid-song banter to go along with the ESP theme. The crowd laughed along.

Things got weird when the show ended. The main exits were closed and the post-concert crush was detoured into a single, slow, drunken, angry file. My friend and I slowly shuffled through twisting hallways and came out a side door, to be greeted by cops in riot gear, firefighters, and a huge crowd of curious onlookers. We rubbernecked to see what was going on and were jarred by the sound of a big explosion. We scurried to a cab and got the hell out of dodge.

My friend checked her twitter feeds and learned about the bomb scare. We wouldn’t have the accurate details until the next morning, but that night, the twitterati were filling in the blanks with lots of imaginative bullshit. The best was to find out that the Buzzcocks concert was firebombed; another from an “attendee” who confidently asserted that the show was canceled midway.

I’d always thought it would be cool if a punk show climaxed with violent explosions a la Rock N Roll High School, but now I realize I could live without it. Easily. Maybe an uneasy world is what made punk so important in its time. And maybe that’s what turned punk into a fun commercial since the 90s – the danger of the music in the safety of the world then. But now that hysteria and unease is the daily way of life, is the Buzzcocks’ insightful, truth-searching brand of punk an escape from reality or the reality again? What do I get?

You can read all about the bomb scare at NY Daily News here.


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