I woke up on Sunday morning with ‘Harmony In My Head’ hammering in my head. It’s far from a hangover, it’s such a nice feeling. “Whenever I’m in doubt about the things I do…”. A couple of hours before Buzzcocks’ gig at The Academy in Manchester, I watch an old video on Youtube and I wonder if Steve Diggle still be able to express that kind fury. I get the answer –Yes, indeed!!! by the encore of this concert that celebrates the 25th anniversary of this venue. But before that, I get one high-octane shot after another…

Mancunian veteran bands Gabrielle’s Wish, Marion and The Members warm up the evening. Special mention to the latter band’s oldies-seventies hit: ‘Sound of the Suburbs’.

Yet, the venue is half full, and the mood is so quiet. It’s OK, but honestly I can’t help wondering where’s the buzz, the anger, the immediacy.

There it is. Buzzcocks enter the stage and without any greetings or hesitation, they start playing fast and furious ‘Boredom’. “It’s the Buzz, cocks!!”. Definitely. I look back and there is a wave of a once-punk-now-bald bunch of guys. They probably work in a bank or in a chain store now, within the system, in other words. But when they were young they listened to this music, they were raised with bands like Buzzcocks. I feel so envious of all these ladies and gentlemen…

There’s no time to wink or buy another pint, as they play straight away another classic, ‘Fast Cars’. Diggle appears like a nice dandy, always with his funny, naughty smile, raising his guitar triumphant. With the third song, ‘I Don’t Mind’ (maybe the English equivalent to Ramones’ ‘I Don’t Care’), the mosh-pit is already on fire. Buzzcocks originals Steve Diggle and Pete Shelley celebrate the passion of the crowd, while new members Danny Farrant (drums) and Chris Remington (bass) seem equally pleased.

Buzzcocks have enough history to tell some rock battles or punky fairy tales between one smashing hit and the other. Nowhere near. They seem to be in kind of a rush, they perform their classics and some songs from their latest album ‘The Way’ in a frantic row, like a relentless tommy gun. A little less conversation, a little more action, then. I really appreciate the fact they don’t mess around and get straight to the point. Maybe that urgency has something to do with what deserter founder Howard Devoto once said: “We never thought there would be another album nor another gig. So, we had to do it fast”.

‘Autonomy’ arrives like a wild horse, while ‘Fiction Romance’ is as deep and pure as an unexpected thunder. They blend this gems with new fresh blood such as ‘People Are Strange Machines’, then to continue with more old school anthems: ‘What Ever Happened To?’, ‘Why She’s A Girl From Chainstore’, ‘Sick City Sometimes’, ‘Nothing Left’ –I just love the moment in which Shelley and Diggle perfectly synchronise their guitars, ‘Moving Away From The Pulsebeat’ –full of piercing  arabesque sounds, and ‘Noise Annoys’.

After a maybe too instrumental interlude during some of the above mentioned songs (where’s the fleeting nature of punk, guys?), they jump into ‘It’s Not You’, from ‘The Way’. I know this might sound an overused cliché, but this album sounds much more mature, they seem to calm down and it’s also darker than the previous works, full of catchy, even quite poppy tunes.

The grand finale comes with another sparkling blast from the past: ‘You Say You Don’t Love Me’, ‘Promises’, ‘Love You More’ and ‘What Do I Get?’. Well, we get an hour of raw energy. But there’s more for the encore: ‘In The Back’, also from ‘The Way’; Kurt Cobain’s favourite ‘Harmony In My Head’ –beautifully performed. I like their characteristic background high-pitched sounds, so urban, like Manchester’s city centre’s continuous sirens. What a tune!

Of course, then it comes what everyone is craving for: ‘Ever Fallen In Love?’ It’s quite funny to see such a ferocious mosh-pit to the rhythm of such a pop superhit. Tender.

They say goodbye to a breathless, satisfied crowd with the apt ‘Orgasm Addict’.

B’dum B’dum…

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Amaia Santana

Good karma brought me here to Manchester, my second home, where you can stay healthy (despite the weather) and young forever, as you can breathe live music in every corner of the city. I do believe in the healing power of music (rock is my life vest) and I'd be so glad to share my passion with you rockers of the world!