Live Tension

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The Buzzcocks Mach 2 (Pete Shelley, Steve Diggle, Steve Garvey, and John Maher -- the classic lineup that formed after the departure of co-founder Howard Devoto) were near the end of their trail as a live band when this live set was recorded during a gig at London's Rainbow Theatre in the fall of 1979, and while the Buzzcocks still sound like a powerful live act on the evidence of Live Tension, one also senses that a bit of fatigue had begun to set in. The performances are sharp, but the between-song patter suggests a certain weariness with the material, and while the best moments are still punk-pop bliss, much of the time one hears a band of professionals who sound fine but are just going through the motions, particularly on earlier songs such as "Moving Away From the Pulsebeat" and "16." The recording is clear and loud but a tiny bit hollow, and the source tape reveals some momentary speed problems, none of which last for long but are quite disorienting in context. Loyal Buzzcocks fans will enjoy Live Tension, but novices are less likely to be impressed, and this is hardly the definitive live document that this great band truly deserves.

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