Tuesday, June 17, 2003

Concert Recommendation: Buzzcocks, Friday, June 20, Metro

Wire are coming to Chicago for a couple shows next week. There has been much press hoopla over their reunion. Or maybe it's just a disproportionate share of hoopla from Greg Kot. On one hand, I can understand the excitement. The angular art punk they created with their 1977 debut Pink Flag turns up in lots of "best albums ever" lists. But an important, innovative band is not necessarily a great live band. The Fleshtones are not innovative and they haven't made massive contributions to rock's recorded output, but they are blast to witness in person. Wire, on the other hand, are boring in concert. With all the ink this reunion has been generating, I started to doubt that judgment. I saw them in 1988 and 1990. Maybe these weren't really representative years for their best work. But I mentioned this to a friend who saw them last year, and he confirmed that they are still dull. So I'll just fire up my copy of The Ideal Copy instead.

Which brings us to the Buzzcocks. Their jittery pop punk makes critics swoon just as much as Wire, in part because it portrays a vulnerability in contrast to the aggression of so much other punk. Their influence is heard among young bands who think Green Day invented punk. But, unlike Wire, they're a great live band. They once sang of nostalgia for an age yet to come. The age has come.

Buzzcocks play the Metro, 3730 N. Clark, Chicago, at 9 p.m. on Friday, June 20 with Billy Talent and Serial P.O.P.

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