The Damned @ Warrington – live review

Damned vaudeville punk rock apocalypse

The Damned are at present out on their 35th Anniversary Tour. As regular readers of Louder Than War will know the tour started last year. We reviewed both their London & Nottingham gigs. Now here’s another of our reviewers, Scott Zverblis, with a review of their Warrington show.

The chaotic musical carnival that is The Damned rolled into Warrington Town centre on Saturday night to breath life, not fire, into the very un-punk rock surroundings of Parr Hall.

Tonight’s gig, part of a 35th Anniversary tour, sees the band perform songs from not one, but two seminal albums, both of which helped kick-start a musical genre.

Damned, Damned. Damned, released in 1979, paved the way for British punk, while The Black Album, released in 1980, planted the dark seed that grew into the gothic rock movement. Hard to believe that two of the most important musical genres were spearheaded by one just one band .

Unlike the show in Manchester last November which saw the band perform both
albums in their entirety over two different sets, tonight’s show kept to the usual one set format and featured songs from those landmark albums as well as classics from their lengthy career.

The first member of the Damned to emerge from the darkness is drummer Pinch and eccentric keyboard player Monty Oxy Moron, while the two surviving original band members (singer Dave Vanian and bass player turned lead guitarist, Captain Sensible) shortly follow.

After a nod and a wink from the good Captain the band launch into Wait For The Blackout which was closely followed by Lively Arts and Silly Kids Games – all taken from the Black Album. Then, after a slightly lusterless version of I Just Cant Be Happy Today, the band take things up a notch to perform a truly outstanding rendition of New Rose, which gets the audience jumping.

It sounded as if the whole of Warrington was screaming along with Vanian to this time-honoured punk masterpiece, as he paced up and down the stage – cracking his microphone lead like a whip. To his right, the ever-smiling, joker of the pack, Captain Sensible, runs around on the spot like a toddler on a sugar high.

An important thing about the band is the energy that they give off when performing live. You can tell that this is their love and this is what they want to be doing. The energy they provide shines off the stage and hits you just as much as the PA system itself fills the stage with sound.

21 songs later, as the chaotic riffs of Smash It Up Parts 1 & 2 fade out, the band quickly dash off stage for a civilised beer and a well earned rest – the days of setting fire to tour buses way behind them.

Spectacular is not a word you’d normally associate with punk survivors, but if anyone turned up tonight expecting a perfunctory run-through of punk anthems past their sell-by date, they’d have been sorely mistaken.

All words Scott Zverblis.


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5 comments on “The Damned @ Warrington – live review”

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  1. I think that bit about The Damned planting the ‘dark seed that grew into the gothic rock movement’ stretches things a bit.

    Over the years, goths have tended to regard The Damned as as good friends and neighbours. Fellow travellers, sympathetic (if a bit over-boisterous) first cousins.

    The band’s excursions into rock ‘n’ roll Hammer Horror hit the spot with the goth audience, and you could certainly argue that ‘The Black Album’ was part of the prevailing zeitgeist in 1980. Dave Vanian was more or less an honourary goth from day one, of course.

    But The Damned were never key movers in the goth zone. If there was any gothic gardening to be done, other bands did it, and the Damned tapped into it.

    Pete Scathe’s History Of Goth site (the nearest thing we’ve got to a properly researched overview of how it all started) doesn’t mention The Damned (not even in the punk section). Some might say that’s a glaring omission. In fact, it accurately reflects the way it was. The initial punk/goth metamorphosis was far more down to bands such as UK Decay than The Damned.

    Oh, and… ‘Damned Damned Damned’ was released in 1977, not 1979.

  2. I was there at this gig, my first time seeing the damned and all I can sat is that this may be one of the best live show I’ve ever been to and I will definitely be seeingthe damned as many times as possible before its over.

  3. julie and dave

    I was at this gig brilliant night as always Long live The Damned

  4. Martin Farrington

    What a fantastic gig. I took my 15 year old son to show him WHY the punk movement WAS so important. [ Just before he emmigrates with the ex to NZ :-( ]The punters average age was probably mid 40’s to 50. But that just made it better. They were all up for it and the band didn’t let them down. The reviewer is quite right, and the Warrington response was superb. The group were better and so so so entertaining. What a great night. Michael Johnson – shut up ! I don’t care who did what and when. These are legends. The only thing missing was that Tin Pan Ally freak Simon Cowell nailed to a crucifix behind them !!!

  5. vanian the dj

    I’d agree to some of what the first poster says, but
    Vanian’s look was copied (and still is) by many a goth, much to The Damned’s dismay. They have never claimed to be ‘goth’ in any shape or form, or ever tried to associate themselves with the moevement. It also has to be remembered that Vanian was doing the whole ‘Dracula’ thing for many years before anyone had heard of ‘goth’ or before The Banshees recorded the goth template known as ‘The Scream’.
    The Black Album is far more psychadelic than goth – only Curtain Call coming anywhere near ‘goth’ or it’s definitions. It’s not their fault that MCA then tried to use Vanian’s image as a selling point – read any interview with ex drummer Rat Scabies and he actively hated all that costume wearing that the press office made them do to sell records in the mid 80’s, as did the rest of the band – barring Vanian of course.
    The ‘Phantasmagoria’ album only has ‘Sanctum Sanctorum’ that comes anywhere near goth – once again,like Curtain Call, a Vanian track. The rest of the album is more a psychadelic-pop album couched in a dramatic looking album cover.

    The Damned have always been more than a simple punk band (their scope of work reflects this magnificently) – but certainly never a goth band, and never tried to be.

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