As good as this night was, although I love the early Damned, I must admit I am only here because I managed to get discounted tickets. A punk band, no matter who they are, asking £73 a ticket for a single show, need to take a good look at themselves and what they stand (or stood) for. At a time when people are frightened to turn on their heating this is a luxury that the vast majority could probably not afford.
That said, what about the gig?
Arriving at 7.30pm I managed to catch the last couple of numbers from opening band Smalltown Tigers. From what I saw and heard this all-girl punk band from Italy should be going places. They seemed a bit lost on the large stage at the 02 so I would love to see them in a small club. Ones to watch definitely.
TV Smith and The Bored Teenagers
Next up is long-time punk legend TV Smith and his backing band The Bored Teenagers. Livewire Smith leads the band through a 30-minute set of the Adverts finest. No chatter, no banter just one song after another to fit them all in in the allotted time. Songs such as ‘No Time To Be 21′, ‘Gary Gilmores Eyes’ and the sublime ‘One Chord Wonders’ start to get the OAP’s (Old Age Punks) at the front of the stage moving.
Last of the support bands is Penetration who rather cleverly open their allotted 30minutes with a cover of Buzzcocks‘ ‘Nostalgia’. Pauline Murray is in great voice as the band rip through crowd pleasers ‘Danger Signs’ and ‘Don’t Dictate’ as well as another cover, this time of Patti Smith‘s ‘Free Money’. Their time is soon up and left me wishing they had been given a bit longer.
As the stage set up begins anticipation begins to rise in the crowd. Not only is this The Damned, it is the original The Damned line up from 76/77 when, along with the Pistols and The Clash they were leading lights of the punk rock revolution sweeping Britain (and the world!) That means alongside The Damned stalwarts Captain Sensible and Dave Vanian we get drummer Rat Scabies and band mastermind Brian James (guitar). They have put all their past squabbles and fall outs behind them for one (last?) short tour of Britain. Just after 9.20 pm the lights go down and the Doctor Who theme begins to blast out over the speakers. Enter Scabies, James and Sensible who informs us that we have indeed traveled back in time to 1976 as the band proceed to tear into ‘I Feel Alright’ and everyone’s favourite vampire Dave Vanian makes his entrance.
Vanian, dressed all in black, certainly looks the part and looks in good nick for someone who must be centuries old! The same for Sensible who at the age of 68 looks splendid in his Dennis The Menace red and black shirt and sailors’ jacket as he gleefully darts around the stage. Brian James on the other hand looks like he got dressed in the dark with whatever came to hand and then super-glued to his spot on the stage. He hardly moved all night but that did not stop him from unleashing an astonishing sonic assault with his trusty guitar as the band rip through the whole of their first album and half of the second. We are treated to such classics (and I do mean classics) as ‘Born To Kill’, ‘Stretcher Case Baby’, ‘Problem Child’, ‘Feel The Pain’, ‘I Fall’, ‘Stab Yor Back’, ‘Sick Of Being Sick’, ‘See Her Tonite’, ‘1 Of The 2′ and ‘So Messed Up’.
Sensible is a terrific bass player and what can you say about Scabies on the drums? The man is the powerhouse of the band, his pounding beats driving the songs on, truly remarkable. Vanian‘s voice has got stronger with age and he looks like he is enjoying himself prowling the stage tonight. Even ‘Help’ (Beatles cover and b side of ‘New Rose’) gets a run through and of course the crowd go crazy for ‘New Rose’ and ‘Neat Neat Neat’, songs that are still as fresh and explosive as they were all those years ago. A jaunty run through of Bo Diddley‘s ‘Pills’ and The Stones’ ‘The Last Time’ (Get It? You know, could it be the last time?) which sees Sensible and Vanian indulge in a little bass smashing and it’s all over.
I Feel Alright
You Take My Money
Born To Kill
Feel The Pain
1 Of The Two
Neat Neat Neat
Stab Yor Back
Sick Of Being Sick
See Her Tonite
So Messed Up
The Last Time
It was very, very good, but I really felt no real sense of occasion as I thought I would seeing as it was the original band. Was it the last time? Who knows, they can’t go on forever, except Dave Vanian of course!