Buzzcocks are a band that needs no introduction but in case you’ve been living under a rock let me enlighten you a bit.  Buzzcocks have been around for over 40 years and have written tunes that have inspired many a generation to pick up guitars as well as advertising execs looking to sell their products.

They were there in the original explosion of the 70s punk scene and the famous Manchester Free Trade Hall Pistols show. Their music has proved to be timeless as well as being too diverse to just put them in one category or genre they were more than just another punk band.

There have been a few lineup changes over the years but the core of the band has always been the two singer-songwriter mavericks that are Pete Shelley and Steve Diggle.

When Cherry Red announced that they were releasing the Buzzcocks “Late for the train” box set which consists of 6 live CDs it had this reviewer salivating as being under 40 I wasn’t even born when this great band started out and sadly as the great Pete Shelley tragically passed away in 2018 and still to my great shame had not got around to seeing them live.

So this 6 cd live set that takes in the reformation years of 1989 – 2016 was something I desperately wanted to hear and I was not disappointed with the sets and quality offered in the set.

CD 1 is taken from a live show in Birmingham 1989 and is a great set with such classics as ‘I Don’t Mind’, ‘Promises’ and ‘What Do I Get?’ and is just a fantastic show full of the energy the band oozes live.

CD2 is a live show from Worcester in ’93 and the gig starts off with Pete saying we have a new album out and the band launch into  ‘TTT’ which is taken from the ‘Trade Test Transmissions’ album and this is a belter of a track. Elsewhere we are treated to high octane versions of other tracks off the new album and it shows that for a band that hadn’t released anything in over 20 years these songs are instant classics and sound great next to old favourites like ‘I Don’t Mind’ (again) and ‘Fast Cars’.

Moving on to CD3 and we see the band head over the channel to perform live in Paris with tapes from 1995 and captures the band in rip-roaring form and has some nice deep cuts such as ‘Libertine Angel’ and ‘Strange Thing’ that sit comfortably with the usual fan favourites such as ‘Orgasm Addict’ and ‘Ever Fallen In Love (with someone you shouldn’t)’.

CD4 is the historic show from Finsbury park in 1996 where history repeated itself as the Buzzers supported the Sex Pistols and also a live BBC session from the same time period.

Oh, how I wish I had a time machine to see what must have been a phenomenal event. The Sex Pistols and Buzzcocks on one bill it’s just a gig that dreams are made of and judging by the live performance on this cd the Buzzcocks are on top energetic form as soon as ‘You Say You Don’t Love Me’ comes blasting out it just sounds so raw and you can really imagine being there.

The BBC session is a nice added bonus and as it’s from 2003 we get great versions of ‘Jerk’ and ‘Driving You Insane’ from the self titled album that was released that year rather than just duplicating the old classics.

CD5 is an outing from London in 2006 and for this reviewer, this my favourite disc from the boxset as with a whopping 28 tracks it really is a stunning gig from start to finish and the tracklist is a fan dream with everything covered from hits to deep cuts with high energy versions of ‘Autonomy’,  ‘Promises’, ‘Operator’s Manual’ and we even have ‘Soul On A Rock’ off ‘Modern’ making an appearance this is an essential live document of a band firing on all cylinders and covering all corners of the bands repertoire.

Finally CD6 is live sessions recorded for the BBC during the period of 1993 – 2016 and has great versions of ‘Do It’ and ‘Libertine Angel’ and as this covers recordings up to 2016 we are treated to live versions of ‘The Way’ and ‘People Are Strange Machines’ taken off what sadly would be the last Buzzcocks release to feature the late great Pete Shelley ‘The Way’.

I can’t really put into words how great this box set is not just the quality of the live recordings but the booklet has great sleeve notes from Steve Diggle and even has a section dedicated to fans recollections of their Buzzcocks concert memories.

Cherry Red have done it again with a stunning box set that is an essential purchase to any Buzzcocks fans collection. All for less than a round of drinks as well.

Buy ‘Late For The Train’ Here

Author: Gareth ‘Hotshot’ Hooper