What do two middle aged dads do on a rare night out? Relive their youth of course, with an evening of classic punk rock at Komedia Bath.
Along with the likes of the Sex Pistols, Stiff Little Fingers and The Stranglers, The Buzzcocks had provided much of the musical background to my early teenage years, largely influenced by my eldest brother’s love of punk. So when when I found out they were due to play at Komedia in Bath, it was too good a chance to miss.
Even if you’re not a fan of punk, you might know The Buzzcocks’ classic Ever Fallen In Love (With Someone You Shouldn’t Have), as perfect example as you could find of the quality of late 70s songwriting. But 40 odd years later, would the band be as good?
I’ve been to countless gigs at Komedia and always enjoyed the atmosphere of the place. Yes, it’s true that almost all – OK – all of those gigs were with bands well and truly in the ‘heritage’ category (so knocking on a bit then), but they had all been superb. Seriously, if you get a chance, don’t miss out on The Blockheads’ next visit…
Straightaway it was clear that The Buzzcocks still had their drawing power, with the place packed with people of a certain age, many sporting T-Shirts of their musical heroes at least a couple of decades old, while the mohicans and spikey hair cuts had largely made way for bald spots and shaved heads.
We just about made it in time for the second support act, Borrowed Time, who were brilliant in an old school punk way – making the most of basic musical skills, loads of energy, having a laugh, just the job. Then with just enough time for another pint of something in a plastic glass, then they were on – The Buzzcocks.
And suddenly, for a while, James and I were teenagers again. If you know The Buzzcocks, you’ll know the classic Boredom, as clear a case of early angry teenage punk writing as you could want. OK, the band had aged – haven’t we all – with lead singer Pete Shelley portly, bearded and balding, looking more like a geography teacher than a punk rocker. Guitarist Steve Diggle, meanwhile, was more the ‘holding on to his youth’ type, still with the same wiry frame and mod-style haircut, and just occasionally throwing in the occasional windmill guitar attacks and poses, even if his voice had lost a little edge.
But then nostalgia is a funny thing and certainly helps to cover up the cracks. We were loving it, with the classics – Orgasm Addict, What Do I Get, Love You More and Harmony in My Head – mixed in perfectly with some lesser known (to me) tracks. What’s more, here were two dads who for an hour or so could forget about the myriad worries, duties and pressures that all parents face daily, and just enjoy the sound of our youth right there, just a short distance away on stage at a great local venue.
Now of course there was a time when both James and I would have been right down in the mosh pit at the front, pogoing away like a good ‘un, and while the brief spark of temptation did occasionally peak out, age, stiff backs and the very real appreciation that we’d probably look right berks stopped us going for it.
Was it faultless? Not, of course not – the gig was too short, there was certainly a sense of the band going through the motions and the almost complete lack of chatting to the audience wasn’t fantastic – but you know, we didn’t care.
As the lights went up and we all trailed out, we were soon swapping stories of past gigs and wondering how many of our heroes were still touring (as it happens, quite a few of them…) before we headed off to The Trinity, where the chat soon moved on to secondary schools and holiday plans. Still, for a couple of hours it was great to remember what life was like before responsibilities and parents evenings. And yes, while we might all be getting older, balder and slightly achier, we can be safe in the knowledge the music of our youth is still the best there’s ever been, even 40 years on.