One Night In Bangkok

As a small break in the festive party going on here (and I just know you’re on the edge of your seats, waiting for the next part of the story…patience, please), here’s a review written by my great buddy Dale Farrington, ex of American TV Cops, concerning a Buzzcocks gig he recently attended, with pictures taken by his wife. Over to you, Dale (you lucky sod ;-):

Buzzcocks, Club Culture, Bangkok – Saturday 28th November, 2009

It’s pretty fair to say that Punk Rock changed my life. As a teenage paper boy growing up in deepest Staffordshire, and with no real interest in music, I was heavily influenced by the newspaper headlines of December 2nd, 1976. The Sex Pistols outburst on Bill Grundy’s Today programme was the talk of the school that day and by tea-time I was in a band, and we had written our first song, “Typhoid”. Within the next few weeks I discovered John Peel and the NME. I made friendships with kids at school I had never even spoken to before and I had cut my hair and narrowed the width of my trouser bottoms. School work took a back seat as I immersed myself in everything connected to “The Filth and The Fury” that was enraging the whole nation. I sold my Scalextric and Subbuteo sets to buy records and renamed myself Dee Pression. There was no turning back now. All my hard earned paper round money was being spent on records and going to gigs.

During the first few months of 1977 I saw The Clash, The Jam, The Damned, The Stranglers, Subway Sect, The Slits and Buzzcocks. All of whom were brilliant. But there was something about Buzzcocks that set them apart. Coming from Greater Manchester, like I do, helped. We had moved to Burton on Trent from Oldham in 1975 and I felt like an outsider but Buzzcocks were “my” band. And I was proud of the fact that they were so damn good. I wrote their name all over my exercise books and in the school toilets. I recorded their sessions off John Peel. I bought their records. And I went to see them as often as I could. One of the great things about Burton (and there are many) is its location. It’s right in the middle of England, which meant whenever tour dates were announced in the NME or Sounds I would scour the lists for mentions of Birmingham, Derby, Nottingham, Leicester, Wolverhampton and Stoke. It was then a case of sending off a postal order and a self addressed envelope and waiting for the tickets to arrive.

I saw a lot of their gigs between 1977 and 1981 and all of them were memorable. Unfortunately, the last one, at Birmingham Odeon in 1981, was memorable for all the wrong reasons. It was awful. The band members were obviously not talking to each other, the guitars were often out of tune, Steve Diggle was very drunk and there were only about 250 people scattered around the vast interior of the venue. Soon afterwards they split up. It was a sad end but I still had the records and the memories of happier times. Someone (Paul Morley?) wrote a very moving eulogy in the NME and I moved on to the Fire Engines, Josef K and Orange Juice.

Fast forward 28 years. I am now in my late 40’s, have a respectable job, a nice house, a wonderful wife and I live 6,000 miles away from Burton on Trent. However, I’m still a Punk Rocker at heart. Everything that the movement opened up to me, as an impressionable teenager, in terms of music, literature, movies, politics and possibilities are still very much a part of the person I am. And last Saturday, my past and present collided in Bangkok. I first heard that Buzzcocks were coming a few weeks ago when a couple of friends – two people I met in my teens as a result of our shared interest in Punk – e mailed me with the news. I was beside myself with excitement. I genuinely couldn’t wait and I was magically transported back to being an anxious adolescent waiting for his tickets to arrive in the post. Although the advertised finish time of 2:00am made me wince a little. Would I be able to stay awake?

I wasn’t really sure what a Bangkok Buzzcocks audience would look like, or even if there would be one, so I approached Club Culture with an open mind. Arriving in good time, I was pleasantly surprised to see that a large crowd had already gathered and that it was a nice mix of old ex-pat Punks, younger ex-pat Indie Kids and local Hi-So Punks complete with Mohawks and spikes. The atmosphere too was very laid back and friendly. I met up with an ex colleague and we settled down to drink a few pre gig beers with an amiable Canadian bloke who regaled us with tales of seeing the Ramones and Morrissey in Toronto. It was nice to reminisce and share stories and experiences that had happened more than half a lifetime ago but suddenly seemed so recent. It was also comforting to know that similar conversations were probably taking place all around us.

The gig itself was fantastic. Steve Diggle was obviously loving every minute of it. Striking guitar hero poses, playing to the gallery and not looking all that different to what he did thirty years ago. Pete was more laid back. He seemed to be taking it all in his stride but he played the whole show with a huge smile on his face. His vocals were spot on and his occasional asides to the crowd were warm and heartfelt. The set consisted almost entirely of pre ’81 songs – I can only remember “Sick City Sometimes” from the recent catalogue – and was delivered at breakneck speed. The crowd responded accordingly and surely the oldest ever “mosh pit” danced (pogoed!!) throughout. It was a pleasure to have been there and (I’ve been saving this one) to have been 16 Again.

After the gig, and after a few more beers, I was lucky enough to chat with both Pete and Steve, thirty one years after our last conversation. They were both very open and friendly and said how much they had enjoyed themselves. I thanked them and disappeared into the night with a newly purchased t-shirt, a spring in my step and that feeling you get in your ears when you’ve been down the front at a Buzzcocks gig. It was after 3:00am and I was wide awake.

(Many thanks Dale for a great review, and here are some memories for those of you who couldn’t be there, but still have harmony in your heads.)

Buzzcocks, Peel Sessions
#1 (recorded 1977-09-17)
Fast Cars/Pulse Beat/What Do I Get
#2 (recorded 1978-04-10)
Noise Annoys/Walking Distance/Late For The Train
#3 (recorded 1978-10-18)
Promises/Lipstick/Everybody’s Happy Nowadays/16 Again
#4 (recorded 1979-05-21)
I Don’t Know What To Do With My Life/Mad Mad Judy/Hollow Inside/E.S.P.
#5 (recorded 2003-04-02)
Driving Insane/Certain Move/Lester Sands/Jerk

7 thoughts on “One Night In Bangkok

  1. I was a punk nutter as young’un. But missed the original kick off by a couple of years so only really ever got to see The Damned..and The Ants

    However, over the past few years have managed to tick of few old faves that have reformed/kept going: the Pistols (Hammersmith last year), The Damned, New York Dolls (last Friday). The constant is ~ all are better now than then. There’s no sad cabaret vibe, or reheated hits and highlights. The original energy and passion punches through, and if anything is now focused and contained, rather than chaotic. And there’s no spitting!

    Try and see The Damned if they get out that way. And you must tune into Marco Pirroni’s new band The Wolfmen..

  2. A lovely piece, dale. Really enjoyed reading that. Was it really that many years ago? I’ve started seeing Westy again these days, and I remember first getting into a conversation with him at school cos he was wearing a buzzcocks badge on his John Taylor blazer! Little things like that draw you together when you’re young. And here we are now – 30 years later. How the hell did that happen?!
    marc

  3. Hey Dale,

    Glad you had such a good time man. I don’t know if you’re the souvenir type but I’ve got Diggle’s setlist from the night if you want it.

    Cheers.

  4. Thanks, Beady. I’ve got Shelley’s setlist, so you can stick Diggle’s in your scrapbook. :)

    We must have been shoulder to shoulder at the gig.

  5. Errr…glad the Dale Farrington Social Club is alive and well. That’s what the Internet is all about, bringing people together. ;-)) Thanks for the excellent review, buddy.
    Did any of the 18 people who have downloaded the sessions so far enjoy them?!?

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