More Buzzcocks today, folks.
I managed to see the band twice at the Glasgow Apollo back in the late seventies and one of those times I sneaked in with a dimply Philips N2207 cassette recorder, recorded the show on a C90 tape and then made copies of the tape, put an ad in a local record shop and started a very short career as a bootlegger.
This wasn’t quite as easy as I’ve maybe just made it sound. In fact, the sneaking a cassette into the Apollo was a highly risky business as this kind of thing was strictly verboten and two sets of bouncers generally had to be negotiated before you could gain entrance to the concert hall with routine searches taking place. If caught I’m guessing that at the very least the cassette would have been confiscated and I would have been thrown out, not as in escorted out, but thrown physically out onto the pavement of Renfield Street.
The first set of bouncers, though, let me and a bunch of pals past without a search and the second lot actually asked me if we had been searched, a strangely trusting attitude from men never noted for trusting attitudes. Nerves made my mouth feel like it had been coated with pepper but I managed to croak out some words along the lines of, ‘Yeah, we’ve already been searched.’
And to my relief, we were happily waved upstairs.
Whether a basic search would have found my cassette is another matter, as I was wearing a duffle coat, repeat – a duffle coat, and had sewn the cassette into the bottom of the back of it, wearing the coat unbuttoned and loose. I wouldn’t have been the most credible looking member of the audience that night but I was likely the only one to emerge with a tape of the concert, which although the quality wasn’t that great, was good enough to listen to repeatedly and enjoy.
After much trial and error I figured out a way to hook the cassette player up to the family music centre and began making copies, which I advertised in the basement of Listen, which was largely dominated by second hand records and where punky/new wavey types tended to congregate for hours on end, especially on Saturday afternoons, this being a time when record stores (or shops as we called them) didn’t remotely need to have a special promotional day every year because people like me flocked to local independents like Listen, Bruce’s, Graffiti and Impulse on a near daily basis.*
Even stranger as it might seem to some younger readers, at this point in Britain, many families didn’t even possess landline telephones and others, like mine relied on what was known as a party line, which sounds like it might have been fun and possibly even dodgy but it was just short for multiparty line.
This meant that our line was shared with our neighbours from two doors down. Long calls were discouraged in case the neighbours possibly needed the phone to make or receive an emergency call. After six o’clock when I got back in from being a young factory wage slave, I would sit down for a meal and for a few weeks anyway, my mince and tatties or gammon steak with chips would be interrupted by somebody wanting to get their mitts on one of my tapes.
I made a little money and met some new friends but I eventually flogged the original tape after someone made an offer to buy it as a one off. My short career in low level bootlegging was over.
The third time Buzzcocks played the Glasgow Apollo (towards the end of 1979) I was unable to attend as I was living hundreds of miles away working in a seaside town which, since the summer season had ended, really did have the feel of every day being like Sunday. Pity as I would’ve loved to have seen them again especially as Joy Division was the support act. All these years later, I still regret not being able to go along that night to see both bands.
It would be another decade or so before I would get the chance to see Buzzcocks live again when they reformed in 1989 and announced a series of dates including one in Glasgow. Posters at the time claimed that the original line-up would be taking to the stage but this wasn’t actually true albeit you could easily argue that it was the best known Buzzcocks line-up of Shelley, Diggle, Maher and Garvey.
This time around though I wasn’t quite as keen to see them. Even though the band had only formed thirteen years before, after a break of eight years or so their reformation struck me as being dangerously close to nostalgia and nostalgia was something I was determined to avoid so I have to assume that the me of back then might not have entirely approved of everything about this blog.
As David Belcher asked later in his review of the gig in the Glasgow Herald: ‘Wasn’t that punk business supposed to be about burning bright and going up in smoke rather than having a career and gradually fading away?’
Still, most of my pals were going along and I judged that the Barrowlands would be the ideal venue to see Buzzcocks perform in, so I stumped up my £6.50 for a ticket, had a good few drinks in a famous, or should I say infamous, bar across from the Barrowlands and went on to absolutely enjoy every second of the night.
Well, it would be impossible not to enjoy hearing all those classics like I Don’t Mind, Ever Fallen In Love (With Someone You Shouldn’t’ve) and Fast Cars, wouldn’t it?
Tonight Buzzcocks play the Baltimore Soundstage.
For the latest Buzzcocks news and some great links – okay I’m saying this mainly because there’s one to my previous post – head to their Facebook page.
* If you are heading out to Record Store Day you might want to look out for exclusive releases by Alex Harvey, Tess Parks & Anton Newcombe, Django Django, Bis, Honeyblood, The Heartbreakers and N.F. Porter’s Keep On Keeping On, a track that inspired Joy Division’s Interzone, from their 1979 album Unknown Pleasures.