THE DAMNED - Bristol Academy

One of the pitfalls of a bands longevity is presumably having to largely trot out the same numbers at every gig you perform. Not only does it limit the scope of the set list, but for the performers ultimately the repetition must be rather boring. Hell, despite earning several million a gig, I'm sure there are times when even Mick Jagger could do without singing "Satisfaction" for the thousandth time!

And I guess the same must apply to the Damned, a band that have steadfastly toured since the mid to late seventies. Given that to the uninitiated their career can be summed up by one song - "Eloise" - it was rather refreshing for them not to play it. In so doing they produced a set list that gave airing to several numbers that are rarely heard, although for the casual fan in attendance this may have been somewhat hard to stomach.

Boasting a line up that is the longest in the bands history, it goes without saying that they are musically a consummately professional and tight knit quintet. Moreover, the endearingly humorous interaction of original members Dave Vanian and Captain Sensible remains as entertaining as ever.

Kicking off with "Under the Wheels" from "So, Whose Paranoid?" (their only new album of the last decade) they zig-zag back and forth throughout the 36 years of their recording career.

"Noise, Noise, Noise", from 1979's "Machine Gun Etiquette", was the bands clarion call in their early years and something they proudly lived up to in their heyday. Third number "There Ain't No Sanity Clause" was the band's (unsuccessful) attempt in 1980 to crack the lucrative Xmas market. Interestingly, I note there is a Facebook campaign to get it to number 1 this year. However, any chance of a repeat of Rage Against the Machines success of a few years ago is somewhat reduced by the fact the page has only 160 likes!


And so the night carried on in a similar vain. Old stalwarts and perennial favourites - Love Song, Grimly Fiendish, Neat Neat Neat, New Rose, Smash it Up - interspersed with more obscure and rarely played numbers - Rabid, 1 of the 2, A Danger to Yourself, White Rabbit, There'll Come a Day. Still, a cursory glance at the sizeable crowd makes clear that most have been with the band over the course of the many peeks and trough of their career. Consequently, all numbers were received with equal warmth.




Rather touchingly before "Lovely Money" in the encore they recalled the story of how the late Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band front man Viv Stanshall came to appear on the record. Apparently they found him rather intoxicated in a pub close to the recording studio and in this rather relaxed state he accepted "£40 and a bottle of whisky" to participate.




Given the message Captain Sensible put out before the tour that "we won't be doing this forever you know!", it beggars the question at what point might they call it a day? Still, until that time comes I (and most of the assembled crows) will continue to gather annually to pay homage.

Whilst they may not have been as revolutionary as the Sex Pistols or as achingly cool as The Clash, they were still the first UK punk band to release a single and album, to get into the music charts and then to tour the United States. Moreover, they are the only one of punks original "Big 3" that are still going and long may that continue I say!