Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Buzzcocks (The Systematics & The Thespians) at Erics

The Buzzcocks – The Thespians – The Systematics.  Erics, Liverpool November 16 2012
This was my first foray back into Eric’s since it closed back in the late 70’s.

After meeting my old mates, and occasional End Contributors Paul Need and Joey Lowry, we decided to get fuckin drenched as we headed to Mathew Street and entered that  other famous cellar full of noise.

It was really eerie once inside..The memories literally came flooding back (including those from the soon coming Part 2 of my Madness Memories). Just mad long forgotten memories,  like meeting Toyah Wilcox when she was supporting the damned, and Mick Talbot (from the Merton Parka’s and Later style council and Dexy’s Midnight Runners) coming over after the merton parka’s set (nahh) and stealing off with a girl that my old mucker Steve Rotherham (MP)  had been buying drinks for all night (we later wrote a song about it ha haa) …but enough of the past, what of Eric’s Present? Oddly enough it hasn’t really been improved visually, there’s only a couple of the seats remaining in the old seated area’s and there was no sign of the jukebox room, left of stage, where I discovered reggae and herbal medication back in 78…. but it was all very comforting and it felt like a good venue.

The feel good factor was massively complimented by the background noise and the visual feast on the stage upon our arrival. We had walked in after the band had already started so we assumed they were the support act named on the tickets as The Thespians. ..but it turned out to be The Systematics.
Now I don’t want to come across like a lecherous old Sid James here, but we couldn’t help but fail to notice the stunningly beautiful peroxide blonde, punky, singer, Roxanne Collins, centre stage, drooling something along the lines of “I really feel like getting naked” ..Its safe to say the audience at this point was about 400 in number and mainly male, so the band had the audience attention right in the palm of their hands. It’s also safe to say Roxanne slips onto and enlightens the list of glamorous and talented female bass players being the object of many a male fantasy (joining the likes of Gaye advert, Kim Gorden, Suzy Quatro, Kim Deal, Mellissa auf de maur , Charlotte Hatherley etc etc ) But I have to hastily add that it would be massively unfair to say that it was only the sight of the gorgeous peroxide pixie that had our attention.  This band were tight, noisy and captivating in their own right.
From what I can recall there was a punky / bluesy/ rockabilly  feel to the songs (think The Breeders, crossed with Detroit Cobra’s crossed with Transvision Vamp crossed with The Cramps). Its not often a relatively unknown support act captures the imagination of an audience who have come along to see their heroes, but the Systematics more than pulled it off. The songs were punchy and loud. Roxanne can play the bass with the best of ‘em has great stage presence to match her fine vocals  and to her left you had one of the two excellent guitarists, George…..a hulking big man whose vocals and antics were the perfect counterfoil to Roxanne’s. I don’t know the song titles but amongst the last 5 songs I remember 2 song titles that stood out from the rest “Beat up my Brow” and “you’ve been shot” .....and there was another song about Bela Lugosi …thats the one that reminded me, a little, of The Cramps. Excellent stuff.  I’ve had a listen to a couple of songs on their web pages since the gig (not often I’ll do that) and (via my speakers crappy sounds) the recordings don’t match the power of the live set, but I look forward to getting me mitts on a CD to have a proper listen when they have something tangible to get me hands on.

I wholeheartedly and unashamedly recommend this band...Try and catch them live if you can. They have a facebook page (just search The Systematics, and you can find out more about them here   and listen to some of their music here  Here’s a clip of them performing at Eric’s on the night;-


After The Systematics had warmed us up, we just wanted The Buzzcocks, to be frank. However after much tinkering The Thespians were next up...Ok so lets hope these can live up to the opening act.

After flopping on stage the singer, a poor mans Johnny Borrell (and the real Johnny Borrell is annoying enough! Thanks very much)  announced something along the lines of “we’re gonna get on your fuckin nerves”. Unfortunately he was right…mainly due to him, as the rest of the band seemed like a perfectly nice bunch and were clearly talented. But “Borrellalike” was just downright annoying…. Tons of posturing and seemingly well-rehearsed rock star poses (just like Borrell) and he seemed to think saying “fuck” or “fuckin” a lot would make him seem like a rock n roll rebel, but to be honest he just came across like a middle class tosser. Musically they were all over the place.but rather than drag it out I’ll say they reminded me of Razorlight trying to sound like the Libertines crossed with Aqua...and even failing that  miserably. The last song summed it all up for me. Musically it was the best of the set by a mile, quite punky and full on, but when he announced “This is our last song, and its called ‘We don’t care’!” ..or was it “I don’t care” ?….(I couldn’t care less to be honest) . I just burst out laughing. It was like indie Spinal Tap.  Shut up, move on.

After the thespians had shut up and moved on, the audience were in desperate need of a lift and tonight only one band could provide us with the right medicine. By this point Eric’s was absolutely rammed full, from stage to bar. I must have been to Erics hundreds of times back in the day but I can barely remember it being so packed as it was tonight. It was uncomfortably packed to be honest. Even before they came on, the realisation that it would be impossible to get to the bar and back to our spec, with ale, rendered us beerless for far too long on a Friday night. This was exacerbated by the constant to-ing and fro-ing of (like myself) fat bald men. I have never been rubbed up by so many moobs in my life.

As luck would not  have it, just as the Buzzcocks came on a 6’8” Australian man stood right in front of us (we spoke to his partner, That’s how we know!) . He stood out like a sore thumb (directly in front of our stage view) ..denim vest, two naked, tattooed, muscle bound arms aloft ..doing that 2 finger rock salute you see at metal gigs. ..he was like that monstrous fuckin motorbike bounty hunter in Raising Arizona!.  But anyway, On came The Buzzcocks! I could only see Steve Diggle at this point due to our Aussie buddy..and they ripped straight into Boredom, Autonomy and Fast Cars……fuckin breathtaking stuff. By the time Fast Cars had started the front of the stage had become a giant mosh pit of  sweaty, snarling 45+yr olds. I have no idea who this firm were, but given Steve Diggle kept on giving sly winks, nods  and call outs, I would hazard a guess they were mancs. It was quite surreal and a little shocking seeing so  men of my age in a mosh pit, and even odder given that a few were wearing late 70’s style sheep skin coats in this unbearable heat? Lots of females and Ian Mcnabb were seen escaping the front before it got too out of hand.  Thankfully when  our Aussie mate joined the melee he was pleasantly accepted without too much of a challenge, so I got to see a bit more of the band! ....That is until about 3 songs later, when an extremely aggressive female version of our Aussie mate stood right in front of us and whose fat arse made viewing  and standing still extremely uncomfortable for your humble narrator. She seemed intent on starting a fight with a peaceful group of normal sized girls enjoying the gig, so the next time her gigantic arse bruised my groin I accidently poured the last of my whiskey & coke down into the cavernous hell hole at the top and rear of her skirt ...and then casually blamed her for spilling me drink when she turned around with murderous intent in her eyes. She and her feller soon moved away. As for the Buzzcocks, they did most of the hits and crowd favourites that you would expect- Stand outs being What do I get, Promises, Harmony in my head Love you more and Noise annoys. But in I have to admit that there were a few too many Steve Diggle, overly long, guitar solos and songs for my liking (sorry Steve, but its not what I paid me £20 for). My mate commented at one stage, “Its all gone a bit Green Day”!?  and he was right. The man is clearly talented and was having a fuckin ball, but I go and watch the Buzzcocks to hear snappy, punk/pop perfect 3 minute love songs.

Listen The night and the atmosphere was brilliant and the Buzcocks were on brilliant form. But I wanna hear Pete Shelley’s manc-y nasal laments at a buzzcocks gig.Thankfully for every one of Diggles indulgences, there were 4 or 5 pop/ punk classics to keep everyone happy, They finished of all too quickly with the excellent Orgasm Addict and the predictable Everybody’s happy Nowadays. I’m happy to have seen the buzzcocks in Eric’s after only having seen them at the Empire and Mountford Hall previously but I would like a bit of room to breath, move and drink next time I see them..Methinks Erics needs to keep better tabs on the attendance in future.

Verdict, when they were good, they were glorious.
Roxanne from The systematicsurges Diggle to end one of his ten minute guitar solo's

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