“I had a little freakout when my guitar broke last night,” said Captain Sensible during a sold-out show at Black Cat.
“Don’t you freakout now,” The Captain said to the audience. “Unless you want to freakout a little.” He paused. “Monty, dig me out of this hole, will you?”
Keyboardist Monty Oxymoron smiled and asked, “What’s a little freakout in the entire History of the World?” And without missing a beat, The Damned launched into “The History of the World (Part 1),” a single dating to The Black Album in 1980.
There is something remarkable to The Damned beyond their incredibly smooth performance. The band, founded by Captain Sensible and Dave Vanian more than 40 years ago, remain incredible originals, offering enticing earworms that draw upon their foundation as the first English punk band to release a single but also extend that foundation with logical curves into new wave and goth.
Most recently, The Damned sensibly got a little glam, hiring David Bowie and T. Rex producer Tony Visconti to helm Evil Spirits, an 11th studio ablum that became the first album by The Damned ever to crack the UK Top 10 charts. The Damned visited Black Cat on Oct. 20 on tour in support of the new album, which provided them with some accessible new songs that nevertheless bore sophisticated and mature messages worthy of Dave Vanian’s remarkable voice.
Early in the show, The Damned performed “Standing on the Edge of Tomorrow,” the lead single from the new album, as well as follow-up single “Devil in Disguise” at the midpoint of the show.
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And The Damned knew what 700 people turned out to hear and they dedicated half the set to aforementioned The Black Album and Damned Damned Damned, their 1977 studio debut. Selections from that first album still excited the crowd tremendously, and you could feel the electricity in the room immediately from the opening chords of “New Rose,” which fell immediately before “Neat Neat Neat” to close the main set.
No performance by The Damned would be complete without “Smash It Up,” the smash anthem from Machine Gun Etiquette, The Damned’s third and arguably best album. People appropriate flipped out as Captain Sensible began easing into the relaxed “Smash It Up (Part 1)” circling the stage with The Damned’s touring bassist prior to completely freaking out with the righteously glorious call to destruction hailed by “Smash It Up (Part 2)” in the encore. The instantly recognizable song remains perhaps a defining moment not just for the band but for an entire generation of listeners.
The Damned have about a week of shows remaining in the United States with dates in Las Vegas, Arizona, and California. Seeing is believing in the case of The Damned, so catch these terrific musicians near at a stage near you, and you’ll fully understand how a band that formed in 1976 can be even more powerful, relevant, and excellent today than ever.
As Captain Sensible said, “We’re back to save you from today’s bad music.” Here are some pictures of The Damned doing just that at Black Cat on Oct. 20, 2018. All photos copyright and courtesy of Jason Nicholson.