fri 12/04/2024

The Damned, Town Hall, Birmingham review - original punks bring some darkadelica to a full house | reviews, news & interviews

The Damned, Town Hall, Birmingham review - original punks bring some darkadelica to a full house

The Damned, Town Hall, Birmingham review - original punks bring some darkadelica to a full house

Vanian and Sensible battle shaky sound production but come out on top

This is your Captain (Photo by Andreas Graf)Andreas Graf

The last time I saw the Damned live in concert was in a big tent in Finsbury Park in 1986, to celebrate the band’s 10th anniversary. It remains, without any doubt, the most violent gig that I’ve found myself experiencing to this day.

The audience at this week’s show in Birmingham were considerably different – or maybe just almost 40 years older – and even guitarist Captain Sensible remarked on their quietness after a speedy take on 1979’s “Machine Gun Etiquette”. Maybe he wasn’t aware of the shaky sound quality that we were having to contend with or the lack of volume that would have been more appropriate for such an occasion. Nevertheless, the band put on a fine show that dipped into their almost 50-year career, with liberal helpings from Damned Damned Damned, Machine Gun Etiquette and other musical jewels from along the way, as well as almost the whole of their yet-to-be-released new album.

Striding on stage to the theme from The Man with the Golden Arm, it was clear that none of the band has downgraded their wardrobes since they’ve turned the corner towards their pensionable years. Captain Sensible still looked like Denis the Menace, with his stripey shirt and red beret (which he eventually threw into the audience with a “I’m fed up with the fucking thing!”), Dave Vanian was dressed something like the Phantom of the Opera with a black fedora and gloves, while keyboardist Monty Oxymoron had a shirt and trouser set that displayed more skulls than you’re likely to see at a bumper Download Festival.

Once in place, they launched straight into crowd-pleasing takes of “Street of Dreams” from 1985’s Phantasmagoria album and “Wait for the Blackout” and “Lively Arts” from 1980’s Black Album. At which point, Sensible announced that the band would be playing “a choice selection from Darkadelic”. A choice selection, however, turned out to pretty much the entirety of the yet-to-be-released new album, which was completely unfamiliar to the assembled masses. It was nevertheless received well, if in a somewhat muted fashion. “Beware of the Clown” being especially entertaining, with the Captain soloing furiously with a red clown nose stuck in place and then revealing “That was for Boris Johnson”.

The final strait took in “Born to Kill”, which was dedicated to Brian James (the Damned’s first guitarist and original songsmith), “without him no-one would be here”, a scorching “Love Song” and a monster “Neat Neat Neat” which wandered into the Doors’ “LA Woman” and a solo from everyone on the stage. After a quick breather, they were all back for a suitably bombastic “Eloise” and lively “Smash It Up”, which was announced with “It’s a lovely old building, but we’ve got to smash it up, haven’t we?” Fortunately, for the people of Birmingham, discretion triumphed and this particular piece of architecture was still standing as the band left the stage for the second time.

That wasn’t the end of things, however, and they soon returned for a magnificent “New Rose” – finally taking their leave with “Thanks for indulging a load of ropey old codgers. Hope we live long enough to come back”. Tonight’s audience looked like they'll be waiting for a return with bated breath.

The band put on a fine show that dipped into their almost 50-year career, with liberal helpings from Damned Damned Damned, Machine Gun Etiquette and other musical jewels from along the way

rating

Editor Rating: 
4
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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