If you don’t think they’re making rock bands like they used to, then do yourself a favor and check out Buzzard Buzzard Buzzard. The Cardiff quartet’s exuberant 2020 single John Lennon Is My Jesus Christ caused a fervent eruption of chanting from the crowd at London’s Scala on Thursday night, its cheeky musical credentials providing some pretty glaring clues to the band’s musical roots, naming another triple-Triumvirate B: Beatles, Bowie and Bolan.
With three microphones lined up center stage, guitarist Zak White and bassist Ed Rees leaned into soaring harmonies around charismatic frontman, guitarist and electric pianist Tom Rees. Harmonies! And we’re talking about good three-part counterpoint and call and response adding whole dimensions of melody, the kind of thing that Fleetwood Mac and Wings and Queen were good at but modern bands seem to have abandoned in favor of shouting along with the chorus or invoking self-tuned pre-recorded voicebanks on a laptop.
On a podium in the back, flamboyant physical drummer Ethan Hurst played the song not a click track, slowing things down and speeding things up, holding back and pounding as the dynamics demanded. There was virtually no hint of metronomic digital tampering to complete extremely ambitious arrangements. Just lots of dry ice, strobe lighting and talented musicians throwing themselves into their parts with a winning combination of precision and cheerful abandon.
BBB served up the kind of twin guitar lines once favored by Thin Lizzy, attached to McCartney-esque soft-rock piano melodies carried by Tom Rees’ high, smooth voice. Two supporting members joined in to play electric piano and acoustic guitar, tambourine and saxophone as needed, with everyone blasting full throttle to the epic love song Yourself by Gerry Rafferty-meets-Roxy Music .
Clearly, this is a band with deep roots in the pre-punk ’70s, but with a comedic, conniving nod to the mob anthem Double Denim Hop. Nostalgia is a complicated emotion. Do we like something simply because it reminds us of something we liked before? Where does the tribute turn into pastiche?