By Clare McCabe
Artist: The Damned
Date / Venue: Wednesday March 8th, 2017 - The Studio, Auckland
The Damned are in the midst of their 40th Anniversary tour (can you believe it?). They played two sold-out gigs at Royal Albert Hall earlier this year, a venue they had previously been banned from, and Dave’s daughter even played a spot of violin for one of their songs. Fabulous stuff. Wish I had been there. But last night they hit Auckland and at The Studio, everyone was keen for a few hits from our favourite British punks - a great crowd is milling around the Studio, awaiting the lads to hit the stage.
And here they come. Captain Sensible in his usual madcap outfit of beret, denim cut-off complete with badges and patches and his favorite tartan trousers. Dave has his usual goth aura - all in black including gloves and shades, he just needs a cape to complete the outfit. Monty smashes into his usual mad scientist moves on keyboard and Pinch and Stu hammer out the rhythm section.
Up first we get Melody Lee and Generals and the crowd knows it is going to be a great night. 40 years of touring (and counting) and the band still have so much energy.
There are plenty of classic guitar poses from Captain. Dave prowls the stage with that classic microphone. Monty hammers the keyboards like his life depends on it and waves his hands in the air. The songs come thick and fast and each tune they sound tighter. The Damned’s songs are short and sweet and very rock n roll.
We are treated to Love Song (a particular fave of mine), Machine Gun Etiquette and Oh My God here comes Eloise. Dave is in full lounge-act form. First time I saw them play this one was in Dave’s long hair/pirate shirt era when Rat was still in the band (miss you Rat). And it is still fabulous. Captain is soloing all over the place. Dave lurks about the stage. And the crowd sing along – "My Eloise, I’d love to please her, I’d love to care…."
“Wrote this one about getting kicked out of hotels, happened quite often”, reminisces Captain and they swing into Stranger on the Town. Captain conducts the crowd sing-along enthusiastically.
But there’s more to come. The macabre Plan 9 Channel 7 gets an airing. And even History of the World (Part 1). Love it.
Then just as we think they are winding down a bit, our chums speed it up a notch for a blinding version of New Rose. Captain gets down low and Monty escapes from behind his keys to dance madly. Followed by Neat Neat Neat in which Captain has a Hendrix moment and plays his guitar behind his head. Oh Captain, you are such a classic.
A quick cup of tea backstage and then they’re back for a rousing encore featuring Noise, Noise, Noise and, oh look, they saved the best for last - Smash It Up. What. A. Song. Then ok, one more. And it’s Anti-Pope.
My ears are ringing as we leave the venue. Smash It Up lyrics are going round in my head and I suspect I will be singing this one for days to come.
Thanks for including NZ in your tour this year boys. Looking forward to your new album. Will try and catch you again in the US next month. There can never be too many times to see such a classic band surely?