Life Goes On

The Damned bring their 40th anniversary tour to Manchester and make the step back up to the main Academy venue; quite a change from their 20th anniversary when you could have seen them 2-300 capacity clubs. The die hards are out in force tonight and they've been promised something of a treat, the first album played in its entirety! Alright so they did that 5 years ago on the 35th anniversary tour but twice in five years still makes it a rare occurrence.

Click for large image

Now the last time they ran through the first album, frontman Dave Vanian was a bit lacklustre but not so tonight, he whirls and spins across the stage in a manner that really captures the excitement of the early days. Consequently the crowd respond and from the first notes of Neat Neat Neat to album closer I Feel Alright it's clear that this is something a bit special. Not surprisingly New Rose gets the loudest cheer of the night as it celebrates 40 years since its release as the first Punk single and anyone within 10 rows of the front finds themselves engulfed in a sea of bouncing bodies. And no, they didn't play Stab Yor Back.

The sound is great tonight, the wide expanse of the Academy lending itself perfectly to The Damned's musical onslaught. The second part of the set kicks off with Street of Dreams, one of the stronger songs from 1985 record Phantasmagoria and it sounds immense tonight, especially with a very vocal crowd joining in on the chorus. The crowd participation never stops of course as Captain Sensible, Vanian and keyboard player Monty continually cajole them, not that they need any encouragement. The set careers through most of the back catalogue, including a superb version of White Rabbit, Nasty dedicated to Rik Mayall and the gloriously cheesy but lovable Eloise. Not for the first time it's a track from 1982's Strawberries that steals the show and Under the Floor Again takes the plaudits this time but it's a close run thing. From the later years there is only a cursory nod in the form of Amen, which itself is now 15 years old!

Sensible's guitar sounds great tonight and the varied set list really allows him to shine. With a new album currently in the pipeline through the pledge route, there is at last some new material to look forward to, which should bring an added dimension to the set but for now this is a celebration of 40 years of a band most thought would never make it this far. Here's to many more, Punk is dead but The Damned are still dying. Great stuff.

To view all photos taken during this set click here. There are 1 available.