Into Music Live Review: The Damned
Concert: The Damned
Venue: Glasgow Academy
Date: 4 November 2022
As we reached the frenetic climax of the gig, with Captain Sensible and Dave Vanian taking turns to thrash the former’s bass guitar to smithereens, I could only marvel at what I and the rest of the crowd were witnessing. This was punk royalty, rock and roll stars doing what they do best, putting on a show with a ‘no fucks’ attitude, delivering a masterclass in musical delivery that shows why The Damned have stood the test of time. while others have fallen by the wayside in their wake.
But let’s rewind to the start, 1976 to be precise when Dave Vanian, Brian James, Rat Scabies and Captain Sensible started the band. By the end of 1977 however the band would implode but not before they had released two studio albums in Damned, Damned, Damned and Music For Pleasure. Fast forward to 2022 and that original line up have been strutting their stuff across the U.K. with a set mainly focused on those two albums plus some choice cover versions.
Coming on stage to the Doctor Who theme music, I did think this was The Damned re-generating just like the Doctor, going back to that initial line up. Before a note had been played the crowd went nuts, the roar which greeted the band on stage akin to that of a winning goal in a cup final. No pressure then….
As Brian James crunched his guitar into The Stooges 1970, Rat’s primal thumping on the drums and Sensible immediately playing off them with his bass, there was no denying this was gonna be a great night. Vanian, the perfect front man, his voice as sharp as a tack, imperiously dressed in black, cajoling the crowd and taking us all on a path we were happy to go down.
Early highlights included an incendiary take on You Take My Money and Stretcher Case Baby with the mosh pit particularly boisterous, somehow the crowd managing to keep pace (just) with the band all night.
Fan Club really showcased the guitar skills of Brian James who mainly stayed close to his amp during the gig, leaving the Captain and Vanian to prowl the stage while Scabies hands and arms were a constant blur of manic pummeling behind the drum kit.
In between songs, Vanian mentioned the first time the band played Glasgow and they were a little worried the notorious local crowd might not like them. Fortunately they did, and the rest is history, as they say. Next up, the duh, duh, duh familiar bass line started Neat Neat Neat, the crowd swaying like a huge tidal wave back and forth while singing along with the band in unison, a true punk classic which went down a storm, before You Know brought the set to a close. A sprawling rocker with accompanying screeching, discordant saxophone.
A belting encore including a sensational New Rose and a cover of The Rolling Stones The Last Time were just sublime before that moment with the bass guitar. Back in ’76, some said punk would never last but it has and it continues to do so, to thrive. That’s in no small part due to The Damned, the perfect punk pioneers.
Keep up to date with all things The Damned via the website here.