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Tuesday, June 19, 2012

#notmurdered - I'm So Excited

It's a holiday in Mancunia, where the people dress in black - part IV

So you rejoin us outside the Manchester Apollo where punks and the punk-curious from far and wide are gathering to attend Buzzcocks' landmark Back to Front show. Back to Front is Buzzcocks from three eras: the current line-up perform a set of songs drawn from the 1996 - present catalogue; the 'classic' line-up (1977-81) do a set drawn from the first three albums and associated singles; and finally the original 'original' line-up with Howard Devoto will perform the songs from the self-financed and seminal Spiral Scratch EP. This is unparalleled. It has taken a long time to set up. Bassist Steve Garvey has flown over from the US for these two shows (more about him later). I'm excited.

Manchester Apollo is a cavernous ex-cinema. It's filling nicely, there's a goodnatured buzz of anticipation. I spot Buzzcocks' manager Raf at the desk. There is the aftershow business yet to be arranged, I might as well grasp the nettle. Apollo security are not letting anyone near the desk but I have a go anyway and explain that I know Raf and that he knows me. I ask Raf what the plan is for joining the aftershow. He's bemused. He assumes this is all sorted out. He tells me to go to a particular door at the side of the stage after the performance. Hmmm ...

Torpor! Enervation!
The three sets are superb. There are plenty of reviews of this show you can read, and this is not my task here. Let's just say that it's chaotic, the sound is fucking awful and it is thrilling and brilliant. We surge forward to the pit for the second set. We're just in front of Steve Garvey. I love him. It's hell down there though. Pissed-up and very determined man mountains are not to be denied their place at the barrier. Poor @JelloPuss, crushed at the front. @CardinalPhink and I are trying to be gallant AND enjoy the experience but it's pretty hairy down there. A raging sea of drunken, bellowing bonhomie. It's not for the fainthearted.

At the end of the show we gather at the appointed place. This is where things take a turn for the worse. The notoriously intolerant Apollo security are herding us out. That we were told to wait side of stage makes no difference. Our resistance is spirited but useless. We are pushed back to the lobby, where we mill about, pretending to look at merchandise. I make a few calls to the 'inner sanctum'. While we're waiting, I hear my name being called. It's @JelloPuss and she has Steve Garvey in tow.

You have to understand what a profound effect this man has had on my life. My Buzzcocks epiphany was based on borrowing an album and then playing it incessantly for about three months. On the cover of that album were four moody young men in black. One of them was Steve Garvey - mean, moody, so New Wave ... he was (is) also a superlative bassist. I wanted to be Steve Garvey. Ideally, I wanted to be Steve Garvey IN Buzzcocks, but hey ho. Anyway, he was my role model. I learned to play bass because of him and I've had a few adventures of my own because of it. Thanks to him. So when I was introduced, all the things I wanted to say flew out of my tiny head. I was the starstruck teenager waiting outside the back door of Oxford New Theatre thirty-odd years ago. I could have gone home happy then.

Apollo security get their wish and chuck us all out. So we loiter outside, about fifteen diehard Secret Publicans unaccustomed to being outside after a 'Cocks show. My 'phone rings. It's Pete Shelley*. Well, it's Pete Shelley's 'phone. Someone will be down with passes shortly.

The legendary Steve Garvey and a fat bloke.
So, armed with the privileged green wristbands, we get up to the bar where the party is in full swing. There are lots of family members, the Secret Public family, everybody's happy nowadays. And I get my chat with Steve G. I tell him all the stuff I have been carrying all these years and he seems happy to hear it. I'm totally made up now.

There is also business to transact. We're gathering items to auction to support the running costs of Pete Shelley has something special for us - bespoke underwear hand-stencilled by Lou who makes his stagewear. If you want to win this stuff by the way, stay tuned and I'll post the link to the auction when it happens. We also have a Back to Front poster signed by all iterations of the band. This is cool, desirable stuff.

The venue win again. they want everyone out of the building. We get to chat to the people we want to chat to - in many ways this is my extended family. We meet at gigs all over the place. Oddly enough two of them - Maxine and Steve - are going to be at a Damned gig in Belfast the following night. About which more next time ;-)

A great night, made better for turning out all right. Good friends, new and old, a few beers ... you know what? I Don't Mind.

In the next instalment, I find myself financially embarrassed, go on a tweet-up and mingle with Goths.

*It's not smart or funny to drop names. Kenneth Branagh told me that.

Read parts one, two and three of this NW punk rock odyssey.

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