Buzzcocks – live at Electric Circus, Manchester – October 2, 1977 – Gordon Skene Sound Collection –
Buzzcocks for a Monday night. Two reasons this set is special. First, it’s one of the earliest examples of Buzzcocks live, just after signing with United Artists Records and one of the first gigs after the exit of Howard Devoto. Second, it’s the final show at Electric Circus in Manchester before the doors were closed for good. The Electric Circus, a former Bingo Hall and Heavy Metal club, a short distance north from the City Centre of Manchester was situated on Collyhurst Street, just off Rochdale Road. At the time the venue was famous for putting on gigs of the extant punk scene.
The place had to close in late 1977 and the Manchester bands put on a concert to celebrate (or indeed mourn) its closure. Buzzcocks were second to last (the last band being Warsawa, later to be known as Joy Division). So it’s not only a high-voltage show, it’s a historic one.
Buzzcocks formed in Bolton, England in 1976 by singer-songwriter-guitarist Pete Shelley and singer-songwriter Howard Devoto. They are regarded as a seminal influence on the Manchester music scene, the independent record label movement, punk rock, power pop, and pop punk. They achieved commercial success with singles that fused pop craftsmanship with rapid-fire punk energy. These singles were collected on Singles Going Steady, described by critic Ned Raggett as a “punk masterpiece”.
Devoto and Shelley chose the name “Buzzcocks” after reading the headline, “It’s the Buzz, Cock!”, in a review of the TV series Rock Follies in Time Out magazine. The “buzz” is the excitement of playing on stage; “cock” is northern English slang meaning “friend”. They thought it captured the excitement of the nascent punk scene, as well as having humorous sexual connotations following Peter Shelley’s time working in a Bolton adult shop. Per the band, there is no “the” in Buzzcocks.
Devoto left the band in 1977, after which Pete Shelley became the principal singer-songwriter.
For a reminder, crank this one up and take a detour to 1977 tonight.