Review: Singles Going Steady- live and direct!

Buzzcocks banging out the best compilation album at a fabulously refurbished Koko, Camden Town - that’s what I get…

Steve Diggle has spent nearly five years proving his Buzzcocks model, whipping up white heat in clubs across the country, the continent, the States, and adding ‘Sonics In The Soul‘ coals to the fire. So, to look back across these predominantly Pete Shelley singles shows Diggle keeping his late compadre’s songs on stage, as he said he would, via his own driven, unmissable performance.  

Released at the end of summer 1979, amplifying Buzzcocks’ run of zeitgeist-setting 7 inches as a hook for the American market, ‘Singles Going Steady‘ collects chronological A-Sides with their corresponding B-Sides on the back. Setting a precedent that no artist has managed to match – honourable mention to the ‘999 Singles Album‘ – it’s fully deserving of a 45th birthday party, ‘Orgasm Addict‘ to ‘Something’s Gone Wrong Again‘.

Singles Going Steady is celebrating its 45th anniversary in 2024, with Buzzcocks hitting the road to mark the occasion.

The band come on one by one still, but faster this time: drums, bass, touring guitarist Mani Perazzoli, then Diggle – the singer’s sharp new haircut impacts the reaction a bit as people check they’re cheering the right guy – and we’re off, in familiar style.

‘I just want a lover like any other…’

Koko – which was the Music Machine when this album came out – is built for a band like Buzzcocks and the next 90 minutes makes it one of those gigs you have to be at. There’s no drawn-out anniversary banter, the ‘Going Steady’ tracks are interspersed with ‘extras’, not least from reissues various, together with a healthy helping from ‘Sonics In The Soul‘. And, typically Diggle, it’s buckshot-style, not in IRS/UA order, which brings the magic of anticipation to the few seconds between songs.

Steve Diggle, KOKO Camden. March 2024. Pic by Nic Howden.

The venue is full to bursting and it’s all ages. A bunch of teens/20-somethings front right, the majority wearing Buzzcocks’ T-shirts, are in a circle pit – I had to look up the term – which intermittently flashes into fabulous, chaotic life.

Stand-out moments among a set of wholly stand-out moments? ‘Everybody’s Happy Nowadays‘ with its fizzing rhythm, a song I haven’t heard live since Pete Shelley was singing it, ‘Why She’s A Girl From The Chainstore‘, terra firma for Diggle, a hypnotic, momentous ‘Why Can’t I Touch It‘, the scorching take on ‘Oh Shit‘, and ‘Time’s Up‘, from the pre-‘Going Steady‘ catchment, which aptly wraps act one.

Steve Diggle, KOKO Camden. March 2024. Pic by Nic Howden.

With an eye on the clock, there’s a club night to follow, Buzzcocks come back quickly, Diggle with an acoustic guitar, which means ‘Love Is Lies‘ at the top of another seven songs. And ‘Manchester Rain‘, a 2022 single, delivers on all its promise, right up there with the halcyon others.

I don’t catch much of the very occasional chat between songs – Diggle is having a great time and just wants to play – there is a fitting tribute to Pete Shelley though before ‘Ever Fallen In Love‘ – then it’s ‘Harmony In My Head‘ and the night is done.

In one, two, three adjectives, a remarkable tribute to the perfect compilation with all the original energy…

Buzzcocks are touring across the UK and Europe throughout the Summer.

They also have dates across Australia and New Zealand in October and November.

Get dates and ticket info HERE.

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