Friday night, I was lucky enough to see the legendary Buzzcocks at the Loft. My fellow Observer writer Doug Davis seemed to perfectly sum up the show in his review, but I wanted to add a couple of observations.
For as long as I've enjoyed punk rock, I have always hated being in a mosh pit. Pits are fun to watch in Pearl Jam and Pantera videos, but they're not fun when you're trying to enjoy the music in person. I prefer to have my eyes on the band and not on somebody wanting to treat other people like a pinball machine.
The pit at the Buzzcocks was nowhere near the kind of pit I found myself stuck in when I saw Green Day in the late 1990s. Nobody was stage-diving and from what I could see, nobody got hurt. I was able to stay upfront for most of the first half of the set, but the tide pushed me over to stage left, where Alan from the Observer just happened to be. For the rest of the set, I stood comfortably even though a girl in dreads thought it was so awesome that she spilled her mix drink and lit up a joint.
In the words of Bill Cosby, this is called having a good time? To an extent, yes for me, even though I smelled like I came home from a fully-clothed orgy. Nothing like combining sweat from guys and girls as well as cologne and perfume. But I got to see a band I've only really know about since the late 1990s. Sure was nice to see them right up front, at least for a little while.
Something that I thought about as the band just rattled through their first two albums in order: the first time I ever read about the band. Rolling Stone's Alt-Rock-a-Rama book introduced me to a number of bands I would spend years investigating and slowly getting into. I'm talking Mission of Burma and plenty of others. The entry about the Buzzcocks praised their Singles Going Steady compilation since, in the mind of the reviewer, many of the band's albums had filler. Seeing the show on Friday, I was in complete agreement.
It's not like the material was pure filler. There were no wasted moments or self-indulgent workouts. Rather, there were great songs and OK songs. And of course the encore with all the singles was fantastic.
I might want to say at this point that I'm getting too old for shows like this, but I can't. Pete Shelley might look like he should be teaching English at a prep school, yet he still has the voice and charisma that has always made him and his band such a special group.