The Damned – HOB, Anaheim

Concert review by JD Alvarez

It is said that on All Hallows’ Eve the night before All Saints Day,  the dead come back to roam the earth. That, and the freaks come out at night. On Monday, October 31st, 2011 that indeed was the case at the House of Blues in Anaheim. Celebrating their 35th anniversary tour, the Damned hit the O.C.

It can easily be argued that The Damned is among the elite in the punk genre. They are in that pantheon of bands like the Sex Pistols, X, Ramones, The Misfits and Social Distortion. All bands that are the quintessential experience of their generation. That being said, in an interview with members of the band, they exhibit a humbleness that is the opposite of their Rated R persona.  Although The Damned was unique by introducing the world to Gothicism with psychedelic tunes, they set the standard for the genre. Although some 60’s and early 70’s bands may argue that part about psychedelic tunes.

In an interview with Captain Sensible and Dave Vanian, I was able to get some insight to what makes these guys the icons their fans love so much. Captain is the onstage leader of the band, I had a long chat with him before the show. When we discussed what we can look for in 2012′ from the band, he responded with “not sure how to answer that, because we tend to live in the moment and live life to its fullest.”  He went on to say he was very happy with the turn outs they had been getting on their 35th anniversary tour. We discussed the multi-generational  turnout they have been seeing. We touched on bands like the Offspring and Guns n’ Roses who  introduced their music to a new generation by covering their songs.  GNR did New Rose and the Offspring did Smash It Up. Captain thought it was funny and appropriate when he first saw Batman Forever, and the Offspring was playing in the background in a scene that was basically GTA. We also discussed artists they would like to play with again someday. Chrissie Hynde was discussed most, he felt she had such a wonderful voice and knew she would be a success. What impressed me most was when we discussed what is happening in today’s music industry. The Captain said “I would rather be dirt poor and play the music I want, than be filthy rich and be told what to play.” That in a nutshell is the reason fans all over the world love The Damned. It’s that punk-rock anti-establishment with a Rated R Monty Python meets Benny Hill sarcastic humor that their fans have been drawn to the last three decades.  Dave on the other hand, was very calm in his demeanor, it’s the cool crooner in him. He was very enthused that so many younger fans are listening to them these days. He too was very humble that fans (young and older) are flocking to their shows in the numbers they have seen.

As for the show, the opening acts were great. The Cute Leppers were cheered on by the near capacity crowd, and Manic Hispanic brought the house down with their humor and cleverly crafted punk covers.

As for these icons, despite the critical acclaim for their early work, The Damned has continued to put out music. For this tour, the decided to play songs from two of their landmark albums.  The set list consisted of songs from Damned Damned Damned and The Black Album. Despite cries from the crowd for songs like Smash It Up and Alone Again Or, the band stayed true to their commitment of sticking to this set list. The capacity crowd was rewarded by a dynamic performance.

Before the show even started, Captain introduced the albums they were about to play and stated with vigor that if it wasn’t for Damned Damned Damned, “Johnny Rotten would be playing Rod Stewart covers!” Then, they immediately went into Neat Neat Neat, and the mosh-pit began. Funny thing about this crowd, it was Halloween night, but their attire seemed so appropriate for a show by The Damned. Black leather jackets, Mohawks and tats as far as the eye could see, and ladies sporting those tiny tops and latex skirts captivated all the punk boys. Nevertheless, it all seemed fairly normal for these British punk rockers.

One would think the band dressed the part for Halloween, but it was just another show I assure you. Captain wore his traditional black glasses, beret and zebra striped pants, and later changed into a French-maid-dress-like outfit ala AC/DC, while Dave wore a way cool Transylvanian looking suit which gave him that very hip non-shiny vampire look. Stu West wore a cool mask that would have made Wes Borland of Limp Bizkit jealous. Monty Oxy Moron, well Monty is Monty, and you just need to see a show to know what I mean by that. Words alone cannot properly describe him. Pinch was just cool looking in his shades behind the drums. The band did two halves of the show, and an encore. A few notable performances, Captain and Stu played solos of songs that were from Music Appreciation 101 and the influence from Jefferson Airplane and Pink Floyd were in your face. The boys made you listen so you knew what listening to cool music was really all about. Dave’s vocals and cabaret-like persona made the experience. Captain and Stu were dynamic on guitar, and Pinch kept a steady and impressive beat throughout the show.

The Damned treated the crowd to songs like Neat, Neat, Neat and Fan Club, I Fall, Born To Kill, Stab Your Back, Feel The Pain, New Rose, Fish, See Her Tonight, 1 Of The 2,   So Messed Up, I Feel Alright, Wait For The Blackout, Silly Kid Games, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and ended with Curtain Call. The encore was Love Song.

It was  a great night for all that were there. If you truly appreciate music at its most uncensored and epic presentation, see The Damned, you won’t be disappointed.

The Damned is currently on tour in the states, but they are moving on to Australia, New Zealand and Japan. For more information, go to the www.officialdamned.com or check out their social media pages at FaceBook and MySpace. Their music is in stores and also available at iTunes.

The Damned features: Dave Vanian (Lead Vocals), Captain Sensible (Lead Guitar), Stu West (Bass), Monty Oxy Moron (Keyboards) and Pinch (Drums).

Check out TNN’s photos from the show!

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