1976. The year Punk was born. The year The Damned released ‘New Rose’ and were the first Punk band in the UK. Line-up changes, music style changes- they’ve still remained one of the most influential bands of all time.
If like me, some of the bands you absolutely love and adore have band members who are dead or hate each other or both it can be devastating to know that you’ll never see them live. The Damned are easily in my top 3 bands of all time. Their debut record blew my mind when I heard it around the age of 8 or 9, around the same time that I first heard The Cramps. These two bands have become such a vital part of me, but I would only get to see one live. Last night I finally saw The Damned in the flesh. It was easily one of the best shows I’ve ever been to and they put a lot of bands to shame with their infectious energy and the bond between them.
Dave and Captain Sensible are the only original band members here tonight but they all play as if they have been there since the start. I couldn’t take my eyes off the wonderful keyboardist, Monty, who moves around the stage like a child that’s downed a litre of Cherryade and a family pack of Skittles. His energy and the way he moves is amazing. He looks like a fan who has somehow managed to sneak on stage. Dave is probably one of the greatest frontmen of all time. He commands the stage with his forceful stance but without intimidating anyone.
The set list consisted of their debut record being played in full. The show starts with ‘Neat Neat Neat’, and this gorgeous energy just fills the room. I’m probably one of the youngest in the crowd but the energy everyone has just puts me to shame. I’ve never experienced a show quite like this, the atmosphere was stunning which made the night more memorable than most. The Damned blaze through their debut record, and of course when Dave utters the words “Is she really going out with him?” And they rip into ‘New Rose’, everyone goes nuts.
The second part of their set consists of covers and various gems of their back catalogue. Their take on ‘White Rabbit’ by Jefferson Airplane is wonderful, and like any decent cover version- it sounds nothing like the original. ‘Love Song’, ‘Noise Noise Noise’ and ‘Smash It Up’ are obviously other high points of the show but for me it is definitely about how they interact with each other on stage. At one point Captain Sensible is chasing bassist, Stu around the stage like a naughty school kid. They have a beautiful charm about them which resembles the class clown at school. They evidently love playing and they clearly love each other to bits.
Some may argue that Punk is dead, but I refuse to believe it. It’s one of those things that goes beyond a sound, it goes beyond a 40 year celebration. It’s an attitude that is carried and it is still there. For me, The Damned are still one of the most important bands around. They have influenced so many artists, and continue to do so.
Last night they didn’t play like a band who had been going for 40 years, they’ve still got that attitude of a brand new band who demand you to listen to them.
Review by Olivia Cellamare
Photograph by Dod Morrison (from a previous show)