The late 70s in the UK were a time of musical turbulence, as the young bands of the era rebelled against the excesses of the prog rock, disco, and other forms that had come to exemplify the decade. The result was a very distinctive version of punk, which while it shared much in common with its American counterparts such as The Ramones and The Stooges, had a sound that was very much its own. At the same time, labels like 2 Tone were fronting a new second wave of ska and rocksteady, which fused these sounds with punk. While many bands of the period have long since disappeared, recent years have seen a renewed interest in this music which has resulted in a number of reunions. Last Saturday, four of the best of these reunited bands – ska legends The Beat and The Selecter, and punk legends Buzzcocks and Stiff Little Fingers – came together for a co-headlining show at The Forum Hertfordsire in Hatfield, England, just north of London. The show – which was originally scheduled to happen outdoors, but got moved inside due to the threat of thunderstorms – was utterly packed with fans, many of whom had been there the first time around.
One of the early pioneers of the late 70s British punk movement, Buzzcocks have outlasted many of their peers. They were one of the first punk bands to bring a pop sensibility into the genre, proving that energy and melody are not necessarily the antithesis of each other. Also unlike many of those peers, the band has not been content to simply relive past glories. Although they initially split in 1981, since reuniting in the early 90s they have released a catalog that now triples their original three-album output. Touring for the recent release of their ninth album, The Way, the band – made up of original members Pete Shelley and Steve Diggle, both on guitar and vocals, along with Chris Remmington on bass and Danny Farrant on drums – came to Baltimore last Saturday for a stop at the Baltimore Soundstage.