at the NX, Newcastle, U.K., April 7, 2023

THE DAMNED (Live at the NX, Newcastle, U.K., April 7, 2023)
Photo: Mick Burgess

It takes a brave, uncompromising band to head out on tour and play every single track, bar one, from an album yet to be released.

Never afraid to take risks or head in a musical direction to confound their critics, The Damned have, over a career stretching well over 40 years, done exactly what they wanted, constantly foraying into new musical territory, spearheading the Punk and Gothic explosions of the 70s and 80s while evolving musically, never standing still and always staying relevant.

Last year’s short reunion tour with original members Brian James and Rat Scabies brought a moment of nostalgia for the fans but now, all focus was on the future and the chance to hear songs an album due for release after the tour is finished.

Opening with “Street Of Dreams” from their glorious Gothic Phantastmagoria album was the perfect start with lead singer Dave Vanian cutting a fine figure, dressed in black, looking like some dark, mysterious figure from Victorian England, while guitarist Captain Sensible provided a more light-hearted counterpoint decked in Dennis The Menace jumper and matching red beret. It is these seeming contradictions that, when combined together, create the unique Damned experience.

“The Invisible Man” was the first of the new songs this evening to warm the waters before The Damned launched into a couple of vintage classics “Wait for the Blackout” and “Lively Arts.”

For the next hour or so, The Damned played songs from their forthcoming Darkadelic album. To a lesser band such a move could have proved a disaster but such is the strength of the new material that even on the first listen, most were quickly won over. With the Doors-like “Western Promise” oozing class and delivered in style by Vanian’s commanding baritone and the driving “Motorcycle Man” powered by Paul Gray’s bombastic bass setting the tone, there were few restless feet waiting for “the old stuff.”

“Beware of the Clown,” complete with Vanian donning a red nose, took a biting swipe at the state of politics in their own inimitable fashion while the dark, atmospheric feel and memorable melody to “You’re Gonna Realise” perfectly encapsulate the title to the album.

Of course, a band of The Damned’s pedigree has plenty in their back pocket to throw out and whip up the crowd so digging deep, “Born To Kill” from their debut album was dedicated to original guitarist Brian James and the crowd loved it.

An earth shattering “Love Song” and “Second Time Around” ramped up the energy while “Standing On The Edge Of Tomorrow” from 2018’s Evil Spirits showed a band in a rich vein of late career form.

“Neat Neat Neat” brought the main set to a close including a snippet of Gene Vincent’s “Be-Bop- A-Lula” and Captain Sensible’s very own “Happy Talk,” complete with cheeky grin.

A four song encore including Top 5 hit single “Eloise,” the chaos inducing “Smash It Up” and the first official Punk single of them all, “New Rose” sounding just as energetic and powerful now as it did way back then was the perfect end to an evening of looking forward while enjoying the past.

Review and Photos By Mick Burgess


  • 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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