It's like I've died and gone to Damned heaven! All I can hear is 'zzzzzzzzz' and white noise, accompanied by spasming calves and aching feet. Last night was everything a Damned concert always should be; music mayhem, brutal power and enough slam dancing to ensure there will be quite a few bruised fans today. This is the joy of suffering for one of your favourite bands, the legendary punk rockers The Damned. I cannot believe they are celebrating 40 years on this milestone anniversary tour as you wouldn't know it by looking at them. Sharp with high energy and oozing charisma, they are looking mighty fine and put many of our elder folk to shame. The 60's must agree with the eternal fox Dave Vanian and his original band member, the quick witted and charming Captain Sensible. So deliciously crazy. We all loved the many Monty antics.
Everyone has an introductory story when it comes to favourite bands and my Damned story starts once again with an older sister getting me to watch the hilarious "The Young Ones" and, in particular, the episode "Nasty" where, of course, the musical show piece of that episode is the Damned performing "Nasty" while Alexei Sayle flutters about as a makeshift vampire. Those iconic moments, the songs and many music clips, fed to me by an older sibling, have left a permanent imprint when it comes to this band. I can't imagine listening to music without them as they are one of my staples, and this sold out venue showed that many other people felt the same.
The Metro Theatre in Sydney was bubbling along nicely while our own punk rock legends, the Hard-Ons, prepped the crowd. I haven't seen the Hard-Ons in so long but it's like they have barely aged either! Oodles of energy and just smashing it, I felt like I was back at Uni. A perfect entree for our upcoming, decadent main, and what a main it is, more like a multi-coursed degustation menu. The Damned have so much phenomenal material within different eras that you never know exactly which treasured track could make an appearance. Kicking off with "Melody Lee" and working through "Generals", the crowd just went ballistic when it was time for "Disco Man" and "I Just Can't Be Happy Today" . The usual, over zealous, crowd pushing, slam dancers decide to barge their way toward the front throng of chaos. Keep moving people, slam away!
We are lapping it up and then that moment takes place when the clouds part in Heaven and a bolt of sunshine suddenly appears (well it does in my world!). I couldn't believe my ears when the Damned start their cover of Love's gem "Alone Again Or".... you could have slapped me sideways and I wouldn't have moved. I'm quite sure they haven't played this on their last two tours which killed me, and I can't speak about the legendary Selina's gig in the late 80's as I was underage then. This is one of my favourite cover versions of all time, along with the UFO cover version, and one of my all-time favourite concert moments. I was just floating, absolute magic, and had tears in my eyes from this Utopian experience. Thank you, thank you, thank you!
The band smashed through "Love Song" until it was time for more goth magic with the "Street of Dreams". I miss the sax and brass when they're not a part of the live versions but I won't complain too much as I'm getting another slice of that "Phantasmagoria" pie, which I consider one of the best albums of all time. We move through the popular cover "Eloise" and another fave of mine "Stranger on the Town". It's just getting better and better!
The live performance of "Ignite" is even more fierce than its recorded version. Beer starts flying over our heads and it's on for young and old. Just pure bedlam. The mosh pit gets rough enough that grown men are making their way out, covered in sweat with that weary 'What am I doing?' look on their face. It doesn't stop once "Plan 9, Channel 7" pumps through and "Wait for the Blackout". Amongst the crowd surfing, I start to see mosh-pitters being dragged out via security.
Then it's time for some Monty keyboard magic once "History of the World (Part 1)" starts. Another favourite, ahhh this is just bliss. I'm starting the mental song list of 'what haven't we heard yet? God, I hope they play X and X and X and X'. There are so many songs I want to hear that I think they would end up on stage longer than Springsteen. It's crazy time again as they rip it up with "New Rose" and "Neat, Neat, Neat". More beer, more bodies and more hair flying everywhere. Some cans thrown on stage, the usual. The lovely fan I meet next to me tells me "I have two damaged discs in my neck from head banging so I can't head bang properly anymore!" as she tries to do her best. Such is the loyalty, dedication, strong connection and love we have for these true punk and rock gods. It is always a brilliant night and never a dull moment when the Damned are in town.
Rapturous applause brings the house down as the crowd summons the Damned back for 'more! more!'. This hungry, packed house isn't going anywhere. Amongst the two encores we are gifted "Jet Boy Jet Girl", yet another iconic cover, with some deafening "Smash it Up" in the middle and finishing up with "Antipope". This turns the Metro upside down and it's this high octane level of energy and anarchy that keeps the fans going nuts and then trying to get a third encore. But alas, it was not to be. The Damned would have been wrecked, just as we were. I would think that vitamin injections would be a must as this level of performance would have knocked down even the most talented young athlete. It's unbelievable really, that a 40th anniversary tour could be so physically draining. Bring it on! This is what music is about, and what live music is about. The Damned are just one of the special ones.
Like I said before, I could have easily thrown in another few dozen songs to our setlist. It would be a dream ("Is it a dream"??) hint hint, to hear the whole "Phantasmagoria" album live. I can imagine a 3 hour Damned fest. Half of the concert is all "Phantasmagoria" in candlelight, with sax, brass and organ and then the second half can be crammed full of every other classic track plus some; "Thanks for the Night", "Curtain Call" (which I would kill to hear live!), "Anything" , "Lovely Money" etc. so many songs, it's just ridiculous. I'll just make up my own Damned setlist!
Another spectacular night from another brilliant band, the Damned, oh how I wish you could play forever! It seems to be five years in between the last 3 tours so I hope and pray another can be squeezed in somehow within the next couple of years. Every band member was awesome and Dave's voice, so deep and enticing, was just glorious. I could listen to Dave recite Golden Books such is the appeal of his magnificent gift. And if I'm half as cool, with half as much energy as these guys when I'm in my 60's, I'll be a very happy person indeed!
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