Archive for the ‘Subway Sect’ Category

The Buzzcocks Newcastle gigs 1978 and 1979

Saw them at least three times in 1978. Newcastle Mayfair (support from The Slits) in March 1978. The City Hall (support Penetration) in May 1978. The City Hall again (support Subway Sect) in October 1978. And then again in 1979 at the City Hall with Joy Division support. All of these gigs were just great. They was an air of excitement at the time, we all felt that we were part of something new and exciting, and that music (and everything else) was changing, and fast. Although I had been brought up music-wise on The Beatles, The Stones, Deep Purple, Zeppelin, The Who, and was also heavily into Yes, Genesis, ELP and Floyd, and took to punk 100% and immersed myself in new wave music. Marie and I went to all the punk gigs in the North East in the early 70s, even though I was often the only person there with long hair. I remember reading about the Buzzcocks in the Sounds and NME, and hearing the Spiral Scratch ep but we didn’t get to see them play in the North East until they came to The Mayfair in early 1978, supported by The Slits. By then they had released their first album and the singles “What do I get?” and “I don’t mind”. My recollections of that early gig was of a set of great pure pop songs played in an almost shambolic manner at times. The next tour brought the Buzzcocks to the City Hall a couple of months later with support from local heroes Pentration. The ticket for this gig has no seat number, which suggests that seats weren’t allocated and you could sit wherever you wished. I remember sitting upstairs with Marie, and that the sound wasn’t too good up there. If you look at the songs they had assembled in those early days, there was a stream of classic pop: “I don’t mind”, “Ever fallen in love”, “What do I get?”, “Autonomy”, “Fiction Romance”, “Boredom”, “Love you more”. Their gigs were the same, tune after tune of classic hooks, often not sung or played anywhere near as well as the recorded versions, but Pete Shelley and the rest of the band were so engaging, and the crowd was so into it, that none of that actually mattered. My recollections of the 1979 concert were more of support act Joy Division and of Ian Curtis’ unique, bizarre and compelling performance than of The Buzzcocks. Looking at the ticket stubs, and the single programme that I have from those gigs bringsback such vivid memories: “Nostalgia for a time left to come”. Where did all the time go? Typical setlist from 1978: I Don’t Mind; Fast Cars; Ever Fallen In Love (With Someone You Shouldn’t’ve); Get on Our Own; Sixteen; Moving Away From the Pulsebeat; Fiction Romance; Love You More; Real World; Breakdown; Noise Annoys; What Do I Get?; Autonomy; Boredom; Oh Shit! Laura and I went to see The Buzzcocks a year or so ago at Newcastle Academy, and they were still great. In fact, if anything the band were more together and the sound clearer than in those early days. I wish I’d gone to the recent reunion show in Manchester with Howard Devoto; I regret not doing so. Hope they do another gig together some day.

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