A look back at The Damned gig as they played Concorde 2, in Brighton on 26 June 2019.
These guys have some rock and roll history and pedigree behind them. It is proof that these pioneers of punk, even after 40 years, are still a class live act and indeed remain a major force in todays music live circuit. I think that perhaps in 2019 they could be even more popular now than they’ve ever been. Two sold out nights, back to back, in Brighton at Concorde 2 filled with fans spanning all ages, is all the evidence they require to prove it!
The Damned are an English rock band formed in London, England in 1976 by lead vocalist Dave Vanian, guitarist Brian James, bassist (and later guitarist) Captain Sensible, and drummer Rat Scabies. They were the first punk rock band from the United Kingdom to release a single, “New Rose” (1976), release an album, Damned Damned Damned (1977), and tour the United States. They have had nine singles that charted on the UK Singles Chart Top 40.
2019 sees The Damned touring with a promise of a full performance, or most of it, of their third studio album, Machine Gun Etiquette, which they haven’t played in full since its release in 1979. The tour includes such venues as the House of Blues, Punk Rock Bowling and Music Festival, Rebellion Festival, and Brighton at Concorde 2. I last saw the Damned in Edinburgh, in a small packed and sweaty venue way back in time. Rat Scabies was on the drum kit back then and I have always wanted to see them again, and tonight I had that wish come true. I, along with a sold out venue, were not to be disappointed.
The Damned line up
Dave Vanian – on lead vocals, retro mic and black gloves
Captain Sensible – guitar and red beret,
Monty Oxymoron – keyboards,
Pinch – drums,
Paul Gray – bass,
And so the stage was set… the theme from The Avengers blasted out from the PA system and the omnipresent, over enthusiastic smoke machine kicked into life. A huge cheer greeted the band as they took to the stage. I think the crowd were ready and up for this one!
Pinch counted the band in 1,2,3,4 and they tore up Love Song, how was that for an opening salvo! What a way to open your set! This song released back in 1979 has lost nothing, it sounded as fast and as exciting as it always did. Marvellous way to start your show. Good Evening Ladies and Gents! The crowd were also up for it from the first opening of the bass guitar riff to the chorus, the sound was deafening “Just for you here’s a love song”.
The Damned – The Set
After the storming set opener what were the guys going to fire at us next? Second Time and Melody Lee were next up from the menu and served up straight at the audience at a full on tilt. This indeed was punk à la carte! Individual slices of punk history being played live. Up next, without stopping for breath, Anti-Pope and These Hands, again a double hit from Machine Gun Etiquette. The track listing for the album continued Plan 9 Channel 7 and Noise, Noise, Noise.
These guys have some large fan base in Brighton and the surrounding areas, a recent sell out at The Brighton Dome and two nights here, back to back, in Concorde 2. You can also tell by the age of some of the T’s on display. The merch desk was full of T-Shirts for the band and also Captain Sensible. I thought it a little odd there was no music available and maybe fans missed out on that as well as the band. I had hoped to grab a vinyl “DAMNED” album, but had to go online to get a copy.
And so, back to the fans, they were in top form tonight from the first song. A small pogo/mosh pit opened up just back from the front of the stage. The crowd joined in with every song I think, and they didn’t let the band down on some of the tunes probably not heard live in a while.
The Damned – NEAT NEAT NEAT!
And the set continued apace, only stopping as Paul Gray (ex-Eddie and The Hot Rods) had a few tech issues with one of his bass guitars and boy, did he take some flak from the band – all in good humour. Its a nightmare for a musician – hit a string and nothing and then being playfully teased by your band mates as panic sets in! He strapped his Rick back and after a quick tune up the band were ready for more! Monty wasnt left alone he was subjected to good humoured banter from the Captain and Dave, they would take a few steps to chat with Monty. Great fun and good to see that after all this time the band clearly get on so well with each other and enjoy what they do.
Liar and the full Smash It Up (with some fine vocal work on this one) were up next much to the delight of the crowd. The crowd danced and sang, the sweat running down everyone’s faces, it was hot and sticky in the venue tonight! Messed Up and Nasty were included. The sense of the end was coming was noticeable, the band who had been playing pretty much for 90 minutes came at us with two classics New Rose – “Is She Really going out with him?” asked Dave – in kicked the drums and some damn fine fret work from The Captain and we had blast off! Even Monty was seen jumping around during this track! That world recognised bass line heralding a back in time 50’s rock and roller introduced Neat Neat Neat.
THE DAMNED – THE ENCORE (s)
The Damned performed two encores and even after that I am not sure the crowd wanted them to go! Curtain Call and Ignite were up for the first “encore”.
The banter between Dave Vanian and Capt Sensible flowed all night and especially around Sensible’s ’80s hit “Happy Talk”, well that was just hilarious!
Jet Boy Jet Girl – was included – with that oh so familiar Plastic Bertrand sound of Ca Plane Pour Moi and the chorus line, I think it was first recorded by Captain Sensible and the Softies and after an intro of “The filthiest song ever recorded” the Captain took charge of the vocals. Crashing guitars and orgasmic moans and groans took us to the end of that one!
White Rabbit was the final song of the night, and what a way to finish! A superb set lasting nearly 2 hours.
THE DAMNED SLIDESHOW
If you are off to see The Damned anytime soon, I along with a few hundred people can confirm you will not be disappointed. The Damned proved tonight they are still a force to be reckoned with, a band that can still deliver a top performance, and lastly that rare ability to engage, and be at one, with the audience. A top night!
A shout to the Concorde 2 sound guys – sounded great fellas. The lighting was great. The smoke machine, well, a bit excessive at times as some of the crowd remarked afterwards as at times they could only see silhouettes of the band.
The sell out nights were promoted by JOY. A great job guys and having the Piranhas Four as guests was an absolute spot on choice. Joy. are independent concert promoters & event organisers based in Brighton. They have been organising events in the UK for 12 years with some of the best artists in the world. Follow Joy. on social media & sign up to their mailing list to get all the news on some of the best gigs & events in your area. Joy are on FACEBOOK.
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All original pictures / video – copyright to IANB/MEDIA WORKS/ SCENE SUSSEX – Ian “The Lens” Bourn 2019.
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