November 9, 2016 The Damned Celebrate 40 Years At Gramercy Theatre NYC 10-30-16
When thinking of the UK Punk Rock movement of the late ’70s, naturally many would turn to bands such as The Clash and Sex Pistols. However, often overlooked by the mainstream, The Damned are one of the key pioneers that deserve their just due. Influencing countless other bands, and laying the groundwork for a revolution, they are Punk Rock’s unsung heroes. Releasing their debut album, Damned Damned Damned, in 1977, the band has since gone through various alternations through the years, including lineup changes, a shift in stylistic approach, but always seeming to find a way to survive. Initially beginning their journey on July 6th of 1976, supporting the Sex Pistols at the 100 Club, The Damned now celebrate their 40th anniversary in 2016 with a worldwide tour.
A tour that began early August in the UK, they made a special visit to the USA in late October for a handful of select shows. Finding themselves visiting the continent just in time for the Halloween season with one night out in Los Angeles, CA and two nights in New York City, it was a brief encounter that had everyone buzzing. Fitting to their often dark, Gothic persona, original members David Vanian (vocals) and Captain Sensible (guitar) followed by the longtime team of Monty Oxy Moron (keyboard), Pinch (drums), and Stu West (bass) came to Gramercy Theatre on All Hallow’s Eve, Sunday, October 30th. The last second of two sold out nights in New York, they came armed with unique sets, ready to haunt their fans like only they know how.
A dark and stormy evening, long-time fans stepped inside the Gramercy Theatre, packing the venue wall to wall, with little room to maneuver. As the initial rush settled down and people found their comfortable positions, grabbed a few drinks, and before they knew it, it was time for The Damned to begin. Without a supporting act, they kicked off their set with a newer song, 2008’s “Nature’s Dark Passion,” where Vanian’s voice was heard, but not seen. Like a phantom stalking Gramercy Theatre, Vanian revealed himself to the crowd when they moved into songs such as “Democracy?” “Amen,” and “Absinthe.” Adding to the excitement, Rocket from the Crypt’s Jason Crane joined them on stage during “Alone Again Or” to offer some colorful trumpet playing. A welcomed surprise, from there, The Damned reached into their bag of tricks, going into 1985’s Phantasmagoria era, which at that time did not include Captain Sensible. Nonetheless, he whisked through cuts such as “Sanctum Sanctorum,” “Street of Dreams,” and “Grimly Fiendish” on guitar with ease as fans dug into the darker side of The Damned.
Asking the crowd if they were in a Phantasmic land at this point of the night, many screamed out “Yes” as they moved into “Shadow of Love” before Crane joined them once again for “Eloise.” Taking a moment to connect deeper with the audience, Vanian explained the story behind the 1982 album Strawberries, a time where they released limited edition copies that included a strawberry-scented lyric insert. He continued explaining that a fan that enjoyed the band bought the album, but sadly he was allergic to strawberries, thus had a terrible reaction from it. Jokingly recounting that the kid had to use his mother’s rubber gloves to clean off the smell from the record, it was a fun and interesting little tidbit of information. Working their way through some minor sound issues, Vanian went into another tale about New York Hotels and its cockroach infestation during their time with the Dead Boys. Another moment of laughs for the fans, the sound issues were quickly resolved as the music began once again with “Under the Floor Again” and “Generals” before the conclusion of the first set with “Ignite.”
During the break, many spectators had a chance to hang out with Captain Sensible for a quick brew and photo opportunity before the final half of the night opened with 1982’s “Life Goes On” with the Captain on the lead vocals. Similar to the first set, Vanian revealed himself during the second song, “Disco Man” before going directly into “Limit Club.” As the earlier tunes continued to flow from their catalog, fans continued to sing along with such favorites as “Nasty.” Then it was finally time for The Black Album portion of the night as they went into “Wait for the Blackout,” followed by “Twisted Nerve,” “The History of the World (Part 1),” and topped it all off with “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.”
Crossing spans of time, the sound of a machine gun ushered in 1979’s Machine Gun Etiquette with “Love Song,” “Machine Gun Etiquette, and ”I Just Can’t Be Happy Today.” Checking to see if everyone was enjoying themselves, Vanian inspired them to sing along as they moved into “Plan 9 Channel 7” before “Smash it Up.” Coming down to the wire, it was time for reflection on the era that started it all, the Damned Damned Damned record. Introducing the album, Vanian stated, “The one the Sex Pistols wish they made,” before beginning with “Fan Club.” Recapturing the albums magic, they went into “Feel the Pain” followed by the ruckus “Neat Neat Neat.” Flashing a purple LED light into the audience, as though he was looking for someone, Vanian said, “I haven’t seen her.” Scanning the room with the light, he joked about his bandmates to the crowd, stating, “They are just scumbags, they treat me like shit, I should have joined The Clash” before they went into “See Her Tonite.” Keeping the energy high with the raw “1 of the 2,” Vanian admitted that the show was coming to its end as Captain Sensible yelled out, “What, cocoa time?” before they wrapped up with the unadulterated assault of “New Rose.”
Yelling for more, as if two full sets was not enough, with the lights dimmed down, many assumed it was all over. However, The Damned had one more Halloween treat to give, and that was for the 1980 anthem “Curtain Call.” Lasting just under twenty minutes, it was the most flawless way to end the ride. While only a few shows stateside before they return home to the UK for more dates through December, it was recently announced The Damned will in fact be back for a full-blown North American tour come the spring of 2017. Set to kick off April 6th out in Los Angeles, more big news surrounding the band,they are also planning on releasing a new album in 2017, showing forty years of The Damned is simply never enough!