Some things really do get better with age...
Tonight was all about the 25th anniversary of The Damned’s 1979 groundbreaking third album release ‘Machine Gun Etiquette’, whilst their contemporaries floundered or searched for musical direction The Damned came up with an album of classic melodic punk. MGE really set The Damned apart, successfully blending loud guitars with keyboards, extended intricate intro’s & vocal harmonies which laid the groundwork for much of their later work.
With the gig being filmed for a forthcoming DVD release the expectant crowd was assured of something special & as always The Damned delivered. Starting proceedings with my personal favourite ‘Love Song’ meant the rest of the set had a hard act to follow but it certainly didn’t disappoint. As you’d expect there were plenty of offerings from MGE, the opening quartet of songs being completed with ‘Second Time Around / MGE’, ‘I just Can’t Be Happy Today’ & an excellent version of ‘Anti-Pope’. By this time the crowd were in full voice & it wasn’t long before the always good-natured (yet thoroughly vulgar!) banter between Captain Sensible & the crowd began.
Dave Vanian sounds as good as ever & still manages to make the older songs sound as fresh & exciting as they ever did as they tear through ‘New Rose’ (first ever punk single – take note kids!) & ‘I Fall’ from their debut LP. What followed I guess you could call the psychedelic section of the proceedings, starting with ‘History of the World Pt.1’ they moved on to long standing MC5 cover ‘Looking At You’ where Captain once again demonstrates what a great guitarist he really is. Two of the more recent songs ‘Would You Be So Hot’ & ‘Absinthe’ are sandwiched either side of a cover of The Open Mind’s classic 60’s tune ‘Magic Potion’. Having loved this song for many moons I nearly spat my pint out when I realised what it was & happily sang along, unfortunately I seemed to be the only person who knew it!
The Damned know exactly how to work a crowd & for any dissenters in the crowd (& there were one or two following the psyche section) they take it straight back up to speed with ‘Ignite’, then a great version of their biggest hit ‘Eloise’, which always sounds far better live than it ever did on record. With such a vast repertoire to call on there were always going to be songs missed out but how could any die-hards complain with ‘Melody Lee’, ‘Neat Neat Neat’ (incorporating The Doors Break on Through), the surprise of the night ‘Jet Boy Jet Girl’ & a shortened version of ‘Curtain Call’?
All too soon it was over, culminating with the inevitable ‘Smash It Up Parts 1&2’ preceded by old favourite ‘Noise Noise Noise’.
The Damned continue to show the way & ably demonstrate that the key to longevity is raw enthusiasm & musical diversity. They clearly love what they do & the audience laps it up. We leave assuming that next year we can look forward to The Black Album 25th anniversary tour! Now that would be something.