The Damned were always the band who put the fun into punk – 42 years later they are still doing just that.
It was hard to define a punk band, they were all so different; but it was The Damned back in 1976 who were first off the mark to release a single and it looks like they have a chance of being the last too.
As a very young lad, I was inspired by punk and it’s great to see that The Damned have lost none of that 70’s sparkle and shine. In fact, original members Dave Vanian and Captain Sensible don’t seem to have aged.
Pinch the drummer has now established himself firmly in the place of the iconic Rat Scabies, whilst Monty Oxymoron on keyboards looks like an ideal candidate to become the next Dr. Who!
Paul Gray from the early 80’s version of the band, has now rejoined on the bass. His first album with them being 1980’s “The Black Album”, their first album on Chiswick Records after they left Stiff, which gave us our first two songs tonight, “Wait For The Blackout” and “Lively Arts”.
The band have a new album out on the 13th April, the Tony Visconti -produced “Evil Spirits”, and the three tracks played from that tonight suggest they are in fine fettle still.
The title track, tonight dedicated by the Captain to Tony Blair and his false claim of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. “Standing On The Edge Of Tomorrow”, the new single, was played early in the set and really does stand up alongside many of their previous releases. “Devil In Disguise” also gets an outing tonight. Not the Elvis song, in case you were wondering!
I noticed a real cross section of ages in tonight’s audience and it was lovely to see many young faces, who wouldn’t have been born when the majority of tonight’s songs were released. There were also many in the crowd who, in the politest possible way, WOULD have been around.
Indeed it was the er, ‘silver punks’ who were the most lively in the audience, risking cardiac arrest to mosh in the audience. No pogoing, it must be said – probably too many hip replacements and dodgy joints at risk to jump up and down. Thankfully, no spitting either.
The Captain made a point of thanking the large turnout for bothering on a horrible, cold, damp February Saturday night, instead of “watching Simon Cowell and downing a six pack of lagers”.
“New Rose”, “Neat Neat Neat”, “Love Song” and “Smash It Up” have lost none of their full-blooded energy, and it’s always great to hear “Anti Pope” again from the brilliant “Machine Gun Etiquette” album from way back in 1979. Last time I saw the band 14 months or so ago, they were running through their debut album and “So Messed Up” is still included in the set this time.
Not many Eighties compilations in your local supermarket fail to include The Damned’s radio friendly version of Barry Ryan’s “Eloise” – “ A tale of unrequited love, many of you must know that feeling”, announces Dave.
It was a good-value set, including two encores, proceedings finally coming to a halt with “Dozen Girls”, followed by a version of Elton Motello’s “Jet Boy, Jet Girl”, which had previously been covered by Captain Sensible with his band, The Softies.
Support on this tour comes from former Stray Cat, Slim Jim Phantom and his very impressive, high energy rockabilly seems to go down well. Not only do we get a few old Stray Cats’ favourites, but there are standards such as, “Matchbox”, “C’mon Everybody”, “Come On Let’s Go”, and “Rave On”.
The Captain makes an early appearance, guesting with Slim Jim to sing The Big Bopper’s “Chantilly Lace”. Although there are no original penned songs on offer, it didn’t seem to bother anyone.
It’s great that The Damned are still around to entertain a new generation. To put things into perspective: Imagine it’s the sixties, the time of the Beatles and there was a band from the twenties still plying their trade and still doing it well. Still coming up with fresh material worth listening to.
Here’s to another 40 years…
Words & Photos: Paul Reno