The Damned - The Mill Preston - 16.11.05
Of all the British punk bands from the mid seventies, The Damned have been the most enduring. They've had many incarnations, split up, reformed but are still going strong today. Captain Sensible on guitar and Dave Varian on vocals may be the only two original members, but what a couple of colourful characters these two are.
Despite this being the coldest night of the year so far, it's not put off the hardcore punk contingent supporting one of their favourite bands. For all his brooding presence and booming vocals its easy to forget that Dave Varian is quite a small chap, still looking trim with jet black hair and twirling his vintage microphone in that cool detached way. Captain Sensible may now be 50, but he still behaves like an overgrown school boy with his red beret, shades, badges, cheeky wink, wide boy smile and occasional tales about the Jam and Sex Pistols. Without a doubt he's one of punks most underrated guitarists.
"Noise Noise Noise" and "Smash It Up" have fans in a state of rapture singing like angels (well hells angels), punching the air and reliving their youth like in 1976. I'm a little disappointed The Damned choose to ignore the singles off their "Phantasmagoria" album which brings back fond memories of my misspent youth. To "Eloise" or "Grimly Fiendish" would have made my night, but alas it's not to be. The vocals are a little low in the mix, but I don't think anything could poison the joy of this lairy crowd of middle aged men. Bizarrely a man from the audience dressed up as a viking joins the band on stage as they perform "History of the World", a grand, almost operatic few minutes which was written by Hans Zimmer (now a film composer) and "Ignite" which has Mr Sensible playing his guitar backwards on this melodic rock song.
No Damned gig could end without the song that spawned their career, the unapologetic punk marvel that is "New Rose". Next year this song will be thirty years old, but is still an explosion of ideas and emotion and the best way to end the gig, ensuring that punks young and old will go home happy and satisfied.
Nicholas Paul Godkin
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