WORDS JANET HARDING / IMAGES WARREN MILLAR
We’re back at the 02 Academy in Liverpool’s beating heart for the promise of a gothic punk explosion. Absolute legends, the Damned, bring their ‘Darkadelic’ UK tour to the city of sound tonight, and it is ‘gonna go off’. It’s sure to be one hell of a gig…punk/electro icons with a decades-spanning career and huge following, and a reputation for no nonsense and for bringing the theatrics. I must say I’m looking forward to this one.
Support – Nightingales
Founded in Birmingham in 1979, Nightingales have their own decent following. It’s already pretty full in our venue tonight as our support act explode into their set. Fast paced from the off, hard edged, real beat driven, bass lines crunch and guitars scream. There’s that real feeling of anger to it, like when punk was new, unheard of. It’s attention grabbing, gritty and boy is it loud!
The crowd seem utterly bewildered or mesmerised by it…it’s like none of us can take our eyes away from this band. Punk cries, fast sung lyrics in that real early 80s punk or post punk style. Vocal is steady, descriptive, It’s a narrative, while the complex and statement drum beats keep us glued, The jagged guitar lines contrast and add another layer and the bass line marries all together. No small talk, no breaks…each song runs directly into the next, although each song varies hugely in feels. The drumming is quite incredible, the energy she gives is inspiring, and she isn’t still for a second! I’m not sure I could compare this to anything, I’ve never seen anything quite like this before; it’s unique in its wildness, rawness and is completely original! It fits into punk, or post punk, maybe even rock, but that bewildering effect is all of its own! If you’re looking for something completely different, with a real bang, then check out Nightingales.
The Damned – Headline
Dave Vanian – lead vocal
Captain Sensible – lead guitar/backing vocal
Monty Oxymoron – keys/backing vocal
Paul Gray- bass
Will Glanville-Taylor – drums
So the crazy, punk, Goth train of rock n roll arrives on stage before us in epic style, to thunderous and rapturous applause. Captain Sensible, in customary red beret and stripy t-shirt decorated with pin badges, gets a surge of energy from the crowd as he says” hello”, then it’s straight into the set…bang, a sea of guitar lines and beats cascades toward us and as Dave, our front man, strides to centre stage in full invisible man get up, the crowd goes off even more (if that were possible). It’s so iconic, this sight before us, this brilliant band performing like a whirlwind of musical vibrancy, and the sound is just incredible – spine tingling stuff. All band members are all over the stage, bouncing, bobbing, swaying, swinging guitars, hopping, kicking, it’s all go…posing down photographers’ lenses and smiling and giving thumbs up to crowd members. Monty is possibly the liveliest and coolest keyboardist ever! He shakes that wild hair about whilst playing ferociously
The energy put into this performance is outstanding; it feeds this hungry crowd and is passed back and to, from band to crowd and back again…you can feel the electricity created. As a front man, it’s well known Dave is flamboyant, theatrical and goes all out; tonight is no exception. He’s very, very commanding in his suit with waistcoat, complete with hat and gloves, face painted white (another of his famed trade marks). This silhouette against the flashing back lights is spectacular…matched equally by the presence of two beret-clad guitarists doing flying leaps across stage! It’s a scene that’s truly set, I can’t convey with words the true excitement and atmosphere that this band provoke, but anyone who was there will know. I overheard people saying this is the best they’ve seen The Damned. It does feel special, it’s charged, intense; it’s certainly a gig I’ll never forget.
Vocal is utterly breathtaking: on point, deep, full, rounded, it carries across our venue, enveloping all. The beats are fired out with power, up tempo, skipping, punk rock beats, rapid and loud, bang- bang- bang…bass lines go from jagged and edgy to soaring and melodic. Lead guitar is on fire, the instrumentals are epic and Captain Sensible runs around stage (as does bassist Paul), bouncing off the drum platform and diving through the air. Man, these guys can rock! Keys and electro add warmth and a fizzing feel and lightness.
It’s all perfectly performed and well finished, the sound is immense! New material from the latest album ‘Darkadelic’ is edgy, strong rock n roll and is going down very well, It may be new, but feels familiar and is very catchy and real punchy, toe tapping stuff, but of course the classics are the crowd pleasers, and these don’t disappoint, bringing real nostalgia feels,
All in all this has been one highly charged, high octane, energy fuelled night to remember. One full set, one iconic band who really know how to put on a show. No gimmicks, just style, an abundance of cool and damn good music. Stand out for me this one. ! cannot wait to see The Damned again.
1/ Street of Dreams
2/ Invisible Man
4/ Lively Arts
5/ Bad Weather
9/ Wake the Dead
10/ Follow Me
11/ Motorcycle Man
13/ From your Lips
14/ Born to Kill
15/ Love Song
16/ Second Time Around
17/ Standing on the Edge of
18/ Neat Neat Neat
11/ Girl Stop
12/ New Rose
FOLLOW THE DAMNED
Warren is a live music and festival photographer based in Cheshire and covers gigs/festivals mostly in the North West of England. He has been photographing live music for over 10 years and has covered major artists and festivals