The Sex Pistols are gone, The Clash are gone, but The Damned are certainly alive and well! As their website states, and rightly so, they are “the greatest surviving British punk band, bar none.” They recently took the stage at Asbury Park’s famous Stone Pony Theater and let the crowd know that they haven’t lost their edge in the least.
They have toured over the last number of years but this tour is different. They are touring in support of “Evil Spirits”, their first studio album in ten years. Their set included a healthy dose of songs from the new release and they fit in with the old standards seamlessly. Dave Vanian’s voice is as smooth and powerful as ever. Captain Sensible’s guitar work is as strong as it was when they released their first album, “Damned, Damned, Damned” 41 years ago. Neither of them has lost the fury that propelled them to the top of the late 70’s punk scene in England.
They opened their set with the high powered song, “Nasty” and never looked back. The packed house writhed with the flow of the music as the band continued on with their buzz saw sounding ‘77 classic, “Born To Kill”. After that, they ripped into the Captain Sensible penned “Democracy?” which questioned the state of politics when it was recorded in 2001 but easily fits into the realm of 2018 politics. Interestingly, this song could have easily fit into their latest album whose Music Madness review can be found at https://musicmadnessmagazine.com/2018/10/12/british-punk-legends-the-damneds-latest-release-evil-spirits/
About a third of the way through the set, Captain Sensible had some difficulties with his equipment much to his displeasure. He shook it off and he joked with the audience and the issues were repaired. They broke into an impromptu version of the Johnny Cash classic, Folsom Prison Blues to test the repairs as Monty Oxymoron wailed on his keyboard and all was well. They continued on with their set to the delight of both band and audience alike.
The main set ended with a couple of early favorites, “New Rose” and “Neat Neat Neat” which rose the temperature of the already hot and sweaty venue by a few degrees. They performed two encores consisting of 2 songs each but even with a 21 song set list, the crowd was left wanting more. The Damned clearly enjoyed what they were doing and that sentiment was easily conveyed to their fans. The audience was comprised mostly of older folks who were no doubt recapturing part of their youth but there were also younger fans, dedicated to the message that the early punk rock movement conveyed.
The jovial clowning around by Captain Sensible and the smiles that crossed over Dave Vanian’s face were tell tail signs that this band is not merely going through the motions. The Damned are still a musical force to be reckoned with and their shows should not be missed by long time fans and young punk rockers alike.
The Setlist from the Asbury Park Show”
- Born to Kill
- Standing on the Edge of Tomorrow
- Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
- Wait for the Blackout
- Folsom Prison Blues
- Lively Arts
- Silly Kids Games
- Devil in Disguise
- Stranger on the Town
- The History of the World (Part 1)
- We’re So Nice
- Love Song
- 1 of the 2
- New Rose
- Neat Neat Neat
Photos and review by Rich Russo