ON current form, Joy Division should have been the best thing happening on Friday night, and the Buzzcocks camp knew it, too. Consequently, they treated their guests to a lousy sound, which dampened Ian Curtis's passionate vocals, throwing him into an uneven struggle with superior forces of technology. Inevitably he lost, but the spirit of resistance was there
Stripped of their strongest asset, Joy Division still managed a few peaks with highly intense, compact versions of She's lost control and Transmission, which carried the impact of mini-epics. Their heavily stylised claustrophobia might eventually constrict them, but for the present it's exciting, and their expand on it in the future should be worth watching
Unsurprisingly, the sound improved immensely for the Buzzcocks, discounting a few hiccups at the start; that they failed to make the most of it, after Joy Division's struggle, is doubtly frustrating
The Buzzcocks were definitely off-form. They looked tired and jaded, making little effort to pep up their zitzy pop. Instead, we were treated to a criminally short 35 minute run-through of hits and standards; they only livened up when Steve Diggle took lead vocals for Mad mad judy and Harmony in my head – the latter sung very badly, but at least it was enthusiastic
Diggle's songs, though, aren't what people go and see the Buzzcocks for, as Shelley's centre-stage position indicated
Directionless and despondent, he didn't spark the Ever fallen in love or Nothing left, seemingly saving himself for the final, halfway-decent I believe. When Shelley doesn't try, the counterbalance of his fragile preciousness topples to the heavier rough 'n' ready approach of Steve Diggle and drummer John Maher, who aren't the reasons why I go see the Buzzcocks
By definition, pop has to be lively and sharp; weariness plainly doesn't become it. The Buzzcocks used to be a vital, invigorating band. On Friday they displayed no interest whatsoever, consequently they're no longer interesting
But that's still no excuse for what they allowed to happen to Joy Division. But when, if they don't help themselves, why should they help anyone else?