The Damned - Concorde 2 - Thursday December 20
DAMNED line-ups have been as changeable as the English weather.
This show was a homecoming gig for guitarist Captain Sensible. The good captain has been an honourary Brightonian for the past 20 years but rumours are rife that he is Berlin-bound.
Sensible, the wrong side of 50, hasn’t changed a bit and neither has singer Dave Vanian, who strode on stage as dapper as ever sporting a nifty ‘tache.
The band is much tighter with Stu West on bass and Pinch on drums, eradicating the sloppiness and restoring the band’s power. They let Sensible soar – don’t go Captain your country needs you – as they ploughed into opener Just Can’t Be Happy Today, gifting another hometown boy Monty Oxymoron an early keyboard solo. Monty pogo’ed like a mad marionette behind his perspex screen, erected to protect his precious organs from pint-chucking punkers.
The band punched through Wait For The Blackout, Dozen Girls and Neat, Neat, Neat with machine-gun precision.
Halfway through, the set hit a lull as the band took a breather with slower songs and the atmosphere took a battering as the anti-smoking law took effect – a steady stream moving through the crowd to have a ciggie outside.
“I remember this place when it was a tea room,” mused Sensible before getting the show back on track with a stirring Disco Man.
Vanian’s silky baritone was at its best on songs from the post-Captain pop star era, Eloise and Shadow of Love.
The pyschedelic video projection behind the band worked especially well during a hazy Ignite, which became so drawn out it descended into Pinch and Vanian arguing with hecklers while Sensible sauntered offstage. “Appreciate the music you *****,” shouted the drummer to much abuse, before Sensible reappeared for the finale.
Storming encores finished the show as The Damned let rip a triple whammy from their best album Machine Gun Etiquette plus a festive Sanity Clause, with burlesque dancers – again.
This was the best incarnation of The Damned I’ve seen for a long time. Don’t hammer the coffin lid down just yet.