The Trans-Generational Quandary of a Buzzcocks Concert

The Buzzcocks live and dope smoking are two activities in which one should never engage concurrently.  Particularly on the long end of 50.  While in the mosh pit, being pummeled by nubile little kamikazes in ripped fishnets and fire-engine lipstick and smirking double-takes that say “what the hell are you doing here, old man?”  But the dope surge dims the reception and you get an elbow from a little shit who clearly doesn’t care about the slight arthritis in the right knee or the wavering countenance that suggests, rightly, that the old man on this night in the Lord’s month of April, Eliot’s cruel April, was just too fucked up to really get the content.

A concert is a concert is a concert.  Prior to the show, smoking a cigarette in the tightly monitored smoking area, I chanced upon a trio of twenty-somethings from Jersey outskirts that rambled on Buzzcocks and all things punk and I was really impressed.  Particularly with the one with an obliquely styled hair cut that sprayed out the sides like cascading black tendrils and nothing on top (A Taxi Driver-era Peter Boyle cut is probably close); he was a really smart and articulate guy, and really had what I would describe as a sophisticated understanding of punk and its mileau.  A world view of reknown, even.

And after my friend Ken and I got lopped off from each other after the music started and the lights dimmed, I hung tenuously north of mosh pit with the same Jersey guys right next door.  A joint was passed.  Two hits later, and after a foray into the mosh pit, I retreated to safety and a completely clear understanding that Buzzcocks in 2015 also meant Jeffrey Walter Larsen in 2015, not in 1979 or 1980.

Pete Shelley, the voice and great songwriter of the band, is an old guy now.  That’s fine, but I noticed during the show that the lights often veered away from him to showcase the other original left, the somewhat more youthful looking Steve Diggle.  Steve was having lots of fun, in a kind of too-obvious kind of way, particularly during “Harmony In My Head,” which became a six-minute version of a two-minute-thirty song, which never works out unless it’s performed by Lou Reed prior to 1980.

The kids were having a blast, though, and it’s too bad they don’t have the kind of upstanding citizen bands like the Buzzcocks were and are in their demographic ranks.  Or, to put it another way, they are among their ranks but through the lousy luck and general over-forestation/obfuscation of talent on the Internet, nobody knows about them.  First generation punk was notable, among dozens and hundreds more reasons, for being the last explosion of independent labels, that actually got distribution.  My Peter Boyle fan even knew that the first punk record was “New Rose” by the Damned, on Stiff Records.  And he was right of course.

Here’s the set list for the show:

  • Boredom
  • Fast Cars
  • I Don’t Mind
  • Keep On Believing
  • People Are Strange Machines
  • Autonomy
  • Whatever Happened To…?
  • The Way
  • Why She’s The Girl From The Chainstore
  • Sick City Sometimes
  • Why Can’t I Touch It?
  • Third Dimension
  • Noise Annoys
  • You Say You Don’t Love Me
  • It’s Not You
  • Chasing Rainbows / Modern Times
  • Promises
  • Love You More
  • I Believe


  • In The Back
  • Harmony In My Head
  • What Do I Get?
  • Ever Fallen In Love (With Someone You Shouldn’t’ve)?
  • Orgasm Addict

I totally missed Orgasm Addict, as I was doing a gangway for the exit after the mosh pit trauma.  My heart was thumping, my knee was aching, and I felt just a tiny shard of panic enter my zeitgeist.  Then it was over, I had still had to get home to Jersey.  Ken and I walked to his subway stop, then I weaved and bobbed up Broadway, stopping briefly for two pieces of dollar pizza.

By the time I got home it was quarter to two, and I was still soundly, resoundingly stoned.  I didn’t like the feeling.  Even less so the next morning.

The Buzzcocks moved on to 495 and the turnpike south to play the wonderful Stone Pony in Asbury Park, and I betcha the audience lit up just like the previous night.  They’re all good men, those Buzzcocks  new and originals, and doing a service to those young souls without rock and roll subversives to call their own, and old guys who consider themselves subversive on nights their knees hold out.


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