1 of the 2

So here we are again, The Damned return to Guilfest for an unusual mid afternoon slot on the main stage, which is outside of their comfort zone and I’m really not sure how they’re going to play this one. A little surprisingly the set is quite heavy on the early material as they start with ‘New Rose’ and ‘I Fall’ from the first album.

Considering the hour of the day they put in a performance full of life and humour, most of which comes from the ever smiling Captain Sensible. ‘Disco Man’ and ‘History of the World’ fall either side of ‘1 of the 2’ followed by the classic ‘Neat Neat Neat’. Singer Dave Vanian is in good form although his moustache is highly dubious and his trousers get ever nearer the Simon Cowell school of fashion with a ridiculously high waistband! For those new to the band much hilarity is had at the antics of keyboard player Monty the Moron as he grins constantly whilst leaping around like a lunatic, all of which adds to the entertainment value.

I’ve been overtly critical of The Damned in recent years, as a long time fan they have frustrated me on more than one occasion by not realising their full potential and showing just what a great band they are. For the first part of the set today all of those fears disappear and it’s like the band of old but somehow I knew it was too good to be true and unfortunately the second half of the set fails to live up to the opening. Sensible takes over vocal duties on ‘Jet Boy Jet Girl’, which is starting to sound tired now after several years as a mainstay in the set, as is ‘Eloise’ that follows. It all tapers off though with ‘Ignite’, which should have been a highlight as it’s a high energy track but they persist in messing around with the arrangement and going off into a pointless rambling breakdown half way through that is just boring and wastes so much time that they then don’t have time to play both parts of set closer ‘Smash It Up’.

They are in the studio at the moment recording a new album and it’s disappointing that the teaser on their myspace blog suggesting that they might play a new song never comes to fruition. You’d have to let them off in this setting for playing a set of older songs, this is a festival and that’s what people want to hear but for the die hards they’ve heard it all many many times before and there are no surprises on show today. A good performance but very much a set of two halves.