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Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Live Review – The Damned

35th Anniversary Tour
The Roundhouse, Chalk Farm, London
12th November

Who’d have thought it, 34 years after they last stomped all over the stage of The Roundhouse that The Damned would be back there to celebrate their 35th anniversary by giving us not one but two classic albums back to back over the course of an evening.

It was a sell out and deservedly so, for The Damned are on sparkling form from the off. "Hello. I’m Captain Sensible, you may remember me from Top Of The Pops," announces the good Captain to plenty of playful abuse from the audience. "Let me take you back to 1977,"as the band launch into ‘Neat Neat Neat’ the opening track from their debut Damned Damned Damned. This is the best the band have sounded in years, so tight with Captain handling the guitar duties originally performed by Brian James perfectly. They were all there, ‘New Rose’, Born To Kill’, ‘I Fall’, ‘So Messed Up’ and a stunning rendition of ‘Feel The Pain’. Disappointingly though, no ‘Stab Yor Back’ and at only 58 seconds long it seemed weird to omit this from the set, a minor quibble though. Finishing with a ferocious version of The Stooges' ‘1970 (I Feel Alright)’ the band retire for a few moments before returning for the second set.

Next up the reason why most people were there, to witness The Black Album in its entirety. For a band like The Damned it was a very brave record to release way back in ’80, a far cry from the messed up Detroit drenched sound of the debut album. Here the band delve deeper and darker than ever before mixing elements of psychedelia, punk and proto goth spread out over four sides on the original double vinyl release.

Kicking off with ‘Wait For The Blackout’ we’re off for what promises to be a truly amazing performance. Songs rarely or never played before in the live arena really are a joy to behold. Gems like ‘Therapy’ and ‘Silly Kids Games’, the latter an attack on cheesy game shows, crackle with an energy and enthusiasm which was absent from Damned shows for such a long time back in the ‘90s only to be replaced here tonight with a group of musicians clearly enjoying every minute. The goth leanings of ‘Twisted Nerve’ and ‘13th Floor Vendetta’ sit alongside ‘Lively Arts’ and the ’77 sounding ‘Sick Of This And That’ which could quite easily have nestled into the first set. We get the hit single that never was ‘The History Of The World Part 1’ and to close the show we’re treated to Dave Vanian’s tour de force ‘Curtain Call’, all 18 magnificent minutes of it.

With a four song encore of ‘Disco Man’, ‘Eloise’, ‘Love Song’ and ‘Anti – Pope’ the band troop off clearly moved by the reception they receive. For tonight once again The Damned are our heroes.

God bless ‘em.

Tony Clarke

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