Live Reviews

Buzzcocks and The Slits Live

Selfridges, London

‘When punk first started I wasn’t even allowed in this shop,’ laughs Slits frontwoman Ari Up fixing one of Selfridges security guards in her line of vision. ‘This one’s called ‘Shoplifting’ so go and do it.’

Ignoring the fact that any real punk would rather chuck a petrol bomb through a Selfridges window than buy a new sofa there, someone thought it would be a good idea to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the first wave of British punk with a gig within the posh confines of Selfridges. We can argue until we’re blue in the face about what is and what isn’t punk and many do tonight as punk’s original players (Sex Pistols Paul Cook and Glen Matlock are both here tonight) mingle with fans new and old. Whatever, there’s something wonderfully perverse about attending a punk gig in the pillar of consumerism that is Selfridges. But fuck it. The explosion of energy through boredom that started punk is damn well worth celebrating and we’ll never see its like again so a party is indeed in order.

Original punk DJ Don Letts is on the decks playing some top reggae sounds as he did back in London’s first punk club The Roxy. There were no punk records actually available at this point, so Don introduced the young snotty punks to reggae, leading to many bands like The Clash and The Ruts mixing roots reggae sounds with their punk rock attack.

The Slits were another band to mix up styles influenced by Don. The first all-girl punk band, even to this day they still sound unlike any other band on the planet and led by the hugely entertaining frontwoman Ari Up, they blaze through a joyous set of twisted reggae and rock, stopping to play punk anthem ‘Shoplifting‘ twice. Well, they had too really. Not sure if anyone took them up on their battle cry, but I’m sure a couple of sofas went missing along the way.

The Buzzcocks are not a band to wallow in nostalgia. It’s not like they’ve reformed to cash in on past glories because they’ve never really stopped and new album ”Flat-Pack Philosophy’ is up there with some of their finest material. Arriving onstage with more energy and enthusiasm than men half their age, they blast through a short sharp set comprising of some key tracks from the aforementioned album and then proceed to pile headlong through a greatest hits set that includes pretty much every Buzzcocks song you could want to hear squeezed into 30 minutes. Happy Birthday punk rock, here’s to the next 30 years!

James Sherry