+ HAPPY HATE ME NOTS
The Zoo, Brisbane
September 8, 2006
By ANDREW CONNELL
The first band (can't remember their name) were already underway by the time I entered the building. First impressions were good. Their provocative performance (reminiscent of The Cramps with a few less narcotics on board with a bit of B-52’s thrown in for look) glued me to the spot for a large part of their set.
A seven-piece, they were dominated by four females with great presence. The singer hit all the right howls and screams. The drummer locked in tight. The other vocalist with a tamborine Super-Glued to her hand was the star, throwing herself around, careering through the crowd and staring manically through glazed eyes at most of those there early enough to see them.
There is a lot to be said for a venue like The Zoo, a first-floor ballroom with very little obvious renovations. Old floorboards and crusty old wooden windows opening onto Ann Street and Fortitude Valley below. Before the XXXX even hit the bloodstream there was a vibe that really seemed to lock everyone in from the get go. The ( first band) really helped that along.
It was the appearance of Paul Berwick and the Happy Hate Me Nots sidestage that really blew away the cobwebs of the 22 years since I first (and last) saw them in Sydney. I always thought they disappeared too early for such a great outfit. Either unknowingly or unwittingly, Paul even sports the great '80s fashion of rolling up the sleeves on the short sleeve collared shirt.
The musicianship of these four guys really shines from the outset. Hardly a missed beat and songs played just as fast and just as energetic as twenty years ago. “You’re An Angel” appeared after about three songs and had a fair majority of those around me singing along. I must admit to not knowing quite a few of their tunes but a newie, “Foggy River”, complete with acoustic guitar was sensational - by the standards of 20 years ago or today. No complaints about this great band and it's a joy to see them back. I just hope they can drag out a few of the oldies . “Won't Do Any Good”, “The Buildup”, “Softly Spoken” , “What Did They Say” etc. would be enough to make me break out the stonewashed jeans and roll my own shirt sleeves up. Long may they be around.
Waiting for the Buzzcocks was the most anticipated moment of my last 10 years of seeing bands. The only event that came close was the first reformation of Radio Birdman in Sydney 1996. I'd never seen the Buzzcocks live but have grown up with the obligatory official releases and bootlegs of all sorts of live audio and video from the late '70s and early '80s. It was almost surreal to see Steve Diggle and Pete Shelley walk on stage. Surreal enough for me to write this (first and probably last) live review.
"Flat Pack Philosophy" started us off, followed by another four blistering numbers off the new waxing including “Wish I Never Loved You”, “Sell You Everything” and the magnificent soaring “Big Brother Wheels”. All the recent reviews do these songs justice. They have lost none of the formula that makes Shelley and Diggle compositions so listenable and instantly recognisable.
How old are these guys??? Steve Diggle looks like he’s playing his first or his last gig….standing on the dock in front of his foldback, punching the air and personally pointing at everyone on the floor in front of him between every downward slash of the strings.
Six songs in and “I Don’t Mind”, the opening track for most 1978 and 1979 Buzzcock shows, sees most of the crowd losing their mind. It seems faster and more furious than they’ve ever played it before. "Harmony In My Head" sees a flailing body take Pete Shelley’s mic stand out. This only adds to the excitement level (and that’s just the band!!). No pauses and its straight into "Fiction Romance". The between-track banter of years past is now replaced with not so much as a Ramones style "1..2..3..4" but songs. The Buzzcocks don’t seem to have time for much else. They play with an intensity that suggests they realise they may not get to do this for another 20 years.
The night just keeps picking up in intensity…all the goldies are there…"Get On Our Own", "What Do I Get", "Love You More", "Fast Cars", "Breakdown", "Orgasm Addict" and the mind-numbing finalae of "Boredom". 21 tracks and they’re gone in one hour. Too fast, they slide onto future dates and no doubt more satisfied punters.
If there was a must see show for the remaining year (aside from some of our great Aussie reformations that seem to be happening at the moment) it would have to be the Buzzcocks. Except for a drum and base expo by the remaining Ramones or another Pistols reformation, a trip to see the Buzzcocks is probably the closest glimpse of the early punk era that’s left for those of us who grew up with it. MORE BUZZCOCKS….give 'em Aussie citizenship!
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