LIVE: THE DAMNED – Perth, 17 March, 2017
With The Bible Bashers
Capitol, Perth, Western Australia
Review & photos by Shane Pinnegar
If The Clash or Sex Pistols came out on tour the odds are they’d pack the 13,000-seat Perth Arena. The Damned, inexplicably, have never been revered as highly as their peers from the first wave of British punk – despite being the first to release a single (New Rose) and an album (Damned, Damned, Damned).
Perhaps it’s because they never had the good grace to implode as ingloriously, leaving a longed-for good looking corpse – certainly they are as influential as the others, possibly more so. The Damned not only pioneered punk rock, but they ploughed a psych garage and prog-punk furrows, as well as practically inventing Goth rock.
Everything we love about The Damned was on show when they hit Perth to finish up the Australian leg of their 40th Anniversary tour.
But first, support band The Bible Bashers tore the place apart with their neo-Satanic, go-go dancing, trucker-shirt, bolo-tie, 3-string bass (after the first song, at least), all rock n’ roll preaching badassery.
When The Damned take the stage it’s to a strangely not-quite-full club. That they aren’t an Arena draw is staggering.
Original members Dave Vanian (who now dresses snappily like a WWI-era English gentleman, rather than the gravedigger-chic of yore) on vocals, and Captain Sensible (who still looks the same leery clownish punk cartoon that he did all those years ago) on guitar, are the stars of the night, whilst keyboard player Monty Oxymoron – with the band since 1996, drummer Pinch – 1999, and bassist Stu West – the new boy, a member for only the past thirteen years, play the dutiful sidemen. All enjoy their moments in the spotlight, but it’s the Vanian/Sensible show beyond any shadow of a doubt.
Featuring songs that span the band’s career, they are on blisteringly divine form combining the frenetically spittle-fuelled spirit of ’76 and ’77 (Love Song, New Rose – as vital as it was upon release 40 years, 4 months and 26 days ago, Smash It Up), the Goth rock of their Black Album and Phantasmagoria (I Just Can’t Be Happy Today, Eloise, Street Of Dreams, Wait For The Blackout), garage psych (their cover of Love’s Alone Again Or) and punk prog (History Of The World Pt 1).
Vanian’s vocals are impressive through (Wait For The Blackout is a highlight), whilst the easy banter between the dapper singer and the court jester showman guitarist is warm and endearing.
Neat Neat Neat is more vital than any new music we’ve heard in aeons, and closes the main set in a frenzy, before Cap leads a singalong of his solo hit cover of the Rodgers & Hammerstein South Pacific number Happy Talk, to start the first encore. Would the two musical writers be turning in their graves knowing that burly tattooed punks were swaying and raising the roof to their song, I wonder?
The spiky punk blast of Jet Boy Jet Girl and Noise, Noise, Noise see the band leave the stage again, only to come back for a finale of classic Smash It Up and Anti-Pope, leaving this crowd with just about the best St Paddy’s Day in living memory.
I Just Can’t Be Happy Today
Alone Again Or (Love cover)
Second Time Around (aka Machine Gun Etiquette) [includes a conflicting snippet of ‘do ya wanna be in my gang’]
Street of Dreams
Eloise (Paul Ryan cover)
Stranger on the Town
Plan 9 Channel 7
Wait for the Blackout
The History of the World (Part 1)
Neat Neat Neat
Jet Boy, Jet Girl
Noise, Noise, Noise
Smash It Up
Filed Under: Live Reviews
About the Author: Editor, 100% ROCK MAGAZINE