At the O2 Academy, Newcastle, U.K., January 26, 2018

THE DAMNED (Live at the O2 Academy, Newcastle, U.K., January 26, 2018)
Photo: Mick Burgess

Having a Rockabilly band complete with stand-up double bass player and drummer may seem an odd opener for Punk veterans The Damned, but former Stray Cat drummer, Slim Jim Phantom, is no ordinary guy having strayed across boundaries with the likes of Motörhead’s Lemmy on many occasions. His passionate, fired up Rock ‘n’ Roll clearly struck the right chord as Rumble, Runaway Boys and Rock This Town certainly rocked the Academy.

In a week where Neil Diamond, Elton John, Rush and Lynyrd Skynyrd all announced their retirements, it really brought home the realisation that many of the artists that we grew up with are nearing the end which makes nights like this all the more important. Not that the Damned are contemplating retirement mind you, far from it. Having recently celebrated their 40th anniversary they have their first album in 10 years, Evil Spirits, created with fabled producer Tony Visconti, due out very soon. Retirement and relaxing are very much off the agenda.

With original members Dave Vanian and Captain Sensible joined once again by one time UFO bassist, Paul Gray, from their early ’80s Black Album era, The Damned seemed fired up on the opening night of their latest UK tour.

With So Messed Up from their ’77 debut kicking off the show, The Damned spent the best part of an hour and a half covering the whole spectrum of their catalogue. They may have been the first British Punk band to release a single, an album and tour The States but there’s so much more to The Damned than pure Punk.

Certainly, early renderings of the iconic New Rose and Gray’s rasping Rickenbacker bass intro to Love Song, stomped their Punk credentials loudly and proudly but the supreme Psychedelic Gothic ambience of Shadow of Love and melodramatic Street Of Dreams from their hugely underrated Phantasmagoria album, really showed a band stretching their wings while their glorious Pop cover of Eloise, could have been written just for them.

Lead singer Dave Vanian, ever the sinister English Victorian gentleman, could be a character from their very own Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, yet still possess that a rich baritone that seems at odds with his Punk roots.

Captain Sensible is the Ying to Vanian’s Yang complete with red beret and sailor suit, injects the English humour into the band that stops them becoming an over serious self-parody.

New songs Devil in Disguise and particularly the excellent new single, Standing On The Edge of Tomorrow contain that magical ingredient that keeps The Damned creative and vibrant. Not many bands can stake that claim 40 years into their career.

Neat Neat Neat and of course Smash It Up turn the heaving floor at the Academy into a mosh pit frenzy bringing a rich and varied set to a complete Punk Rock full circle.


  • Mick Burgess

    Mick is a reviewer and photographer here at Metal Express Radio, based in the North-East of England. He first fell in love with music after hearing Jeff Wayne's spectacular The War of the Worlds in the cold winter of 1978. Then in the summer of '79 he discovered a copy of Kiss Alive II amongst his sister’s record collection, which literally blew him away! He then quickly found Van Halen I and Rainbow's Down To Earth, and he was well on the way to being rescued from Top 40 radio hell!   Over the ensuing years, he's enjoyed the Classic Rock music of Rush, Blue Oyster Cult, and Deep Purple; the AOR of Journey and Foreigner; the Pomp of Styx and Kansas; the Progressive Metal of Dream Theater, Queensrÿche, and Symphony X; the Goth Metal of Nightwish, Within Temptation, and Epica, and a whole host of other great bands that are too numerous to mention. When he's not listening to music, he watches Sunderland lose more football (soccer) matches than they win, and occasionally, if he has to, he goes to work as a property lawyer.

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