THE DAMNED + JOHNNY MOPED – BRIGHTON DOME 19.11.18
Decisions, decisions! Sometimes you just can’t win. Tonight, yet another clash of decent gigs. On offer was an away gig with Gary Numan and orchestra at the Royal Albert Hall in London with a load of my mates or to stay at home and review The Damned at the Brighton Dome Concert Hall for our Brighton & Hove News music lovers! Nope, couldn’t let you guys down – so here’s The Damned!
It’s fair to say that Brighton’s Dome wasn’t as packed as the Royal Albert Hall, but after a slow start, the punters started rolling into the bar prior to the gig. After a little light refreshment, the three of us ventured into the main arena to see the support.
Amazingly enough, over the past 40 odd years I haven’t actually seen Johnny Moped perform live before! Johnny Moped being the stage name of the lead singer Paul Halford and the name of the 5-piece band.
Johnny Moped (the band) were around even before punk rock started as they formed in Croydon in May 1974 at the tail end of the glam rock era. Just like I reported four days ago in an article about very early punk band London SS, where their early ‘staff’ members included people that went onto become famous, in that instance it was The Damned’s Rat Scabies and Brian James, The Clash’s Mick Jones and Sigue Sigue Sputnik’s Tony James, here Johnny Moped’s early personnel included The Damned’s lovable Captain Sensible and American singer-guitarist Chrissie Hynde of The Pretenders fame.
In spring 1977, Johnny Moped played four gigs at London’s legendary Roxy Club and two of those were support to The Damned and here we are 41 years later and Johnny Moped are back supporting the same band – although it must be pointed out that both acts have had many changes of personnel in that time!
Tonight at The Dome, Johnny Moped (the man) and his four assistant fellows – who were likely to have been Slimey Toad, Jacko Pistorious, Robert Brook and Martin Parrott – belted through a decent set of early punk sounding ditties, that were enjoyed by the crowd present. I mean lead singer Johnny is no spring chicken and yet there he is still at it – well done man. And well done to the ‘gal’ called Fran that joined the boys on stage for a spot of backing vocals. She had a connection with the band as she was on their last album and is the wife or girlfriend of current or ex-member, but basically she was off her head! I passed her shortly afterwards in a corridor and she was still staggering around….just! Rock’n’roll eh?
You can next catch Johnny Moped back in Sussex at the Con Club in Lewes on Sunday 3rd March 2019. Grab your tickets HERE.
It was now time for The Damned, who currently are Dave Vanian (62 – vocals and Gothic fashion icon), Captain Sensible (64 – guitar and former red beret wearer), Monty Oxymoron (57 – keyboard and Sumerian Kyng), Pinch (53 – drums real name Andrew Pinching) and Paul Gray (60 – bass and former Eddie & The Hot Rods member).
Recently The Damned celebrated the first ever Top 10 hit record of their illustrious 42-year career with latest album ‘Evil Spirits’. It’s a big achievement for the British punk rock born legends who, despite huge success in the seventies and eighties, never quite made the Top 10, narrowly missing the chance in 1985 when their ‘Phantasmagoria’ album frustratingly peaked at No.11.
The huge swell of support from their fans, critics and aficionados has propelled the Tony Visconti produced ‘Evil Spirits’ to the top and has shown the world just how relevant The Damned still are, 42 years after their inception. Never ones to play it safe, (other than Captain Sensible larking around with his solo UK No.1 single ‘Happy Talk’ in 1982), the band always retained the energy of punk but were never content to stay within those narrow confines and ‘Evil Spirits’ continues in that progressive journey.
In fact during tonight’s 20 track performance, I had actually forgotten how many genres The Damned have covered in their music. They were more melodic than I had recalled and there was the Captain’s ever present forays into metal guitar. They even had a chap pop up a few times to the left of the stage, who would add to their sound with a trumpet.
The band were fresh this evening as Brighton was the opening night of their 10-date UK tour. I suspect the Captain and the frizzy-haired Monty being particularly fresh as they both live in Brighton. Incidentally, a few years ago, I saw the Captain pushing a shopping trolley in ASDA Hollingbury and I was very nearly naughty, as I was going to ask the lady on the tannoy to put out a call for Ray Burns to come to the front of the building! That would have been a laugh as that’s the Captain’s real name!
The Damned still have quite a loyal following, like my mate Froggy who is attending six of the ten dates with the furthest being Edinburgh on 27th November. Probably why we had two encores this evening.
The Brighton Dome crowd were well in the mood, with quite a few jostles in the mosh-pit at the front near to where I was standing, where there was nearly a few fights breaking out (just like the good old days…NOT!). It seemed as though there were a few young upstarts trying to usurp the more mature punks as they pushed each other around. Although two of the mature geezers nearly came to blows. But cue Smelly wading in with his kind eyes, long unkempt hair and t-shirt off. I mean how could you attack each other when there’s a bloke in front of you that looks like Jesus?
So with one-eye on The Damned and one eye on the ‘herberts’ to my immediate right, for self preservation, I witnessed a career spanning set of ditties from 1977 through to 2018.
They opened with ‘Born To Kill’ from their debut ‘Damned, Damned Damned’ album and during their set, they played just four tunes from the current album ‘Standing On The Edge Of Tomorrow’, ‘Devil In Disguise’, ‘I Don’t Care’ and ‘We’re So Nice’, whereas they culled no less than half a dozen tunes from their groundbreaking 1980 ‘The Black Album’. Those being ‘Wait For The Blackout’, ‘Lively Arts’, ‘Silly Kids Games’, ‘Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde’, ‘The History Of The World (Part 1)’ and the epic ‘Curtain Call’.
Yes, we had some of the early punk classics during the set, with those being ‘Love Song’, ‘New Rose’, ‘Neat Neat Neat’ and ‘Smash It Up (Part 1) & (Part 2)’, but for me personally, it would have been fab to have again heard after all these years ‘I Just Can’t Be Happy Today’ (which along with Cabaret Voltaire’s ‘Nag, Nag, Nag’ I used to sing to my mum when she was moaning at me!).
I could have also done with hearing ‘Anti-Pope’ and ‘So Messed Up’, but I suspect that the more commercially minded of the crowd were wondering why they didn’t get served the bands biggest chart hits ‘Eloise’, ‘Grimly Fiendish’ and ‘Alone Again Or’. But I guess that with such a depth of back catalogue to choose from, they can’t please everyone. However we were treated to ‘There Ain’t No Sanity Clause’ complete with the band wearing 99p Christmas hats!
Tonight’s 20 track setlist reads:
‘Born to Kill’ (taken from the 1977 ‘Damned Damned Damned’ album)
‘Democracy?’ (taken from the 2001 ‘Grave Disorder’ album)
‘Standing On The Edge Of Tomorrow’ (taken from the 2018 ‘Evil Spirits’ album)
‘Wait For The Blackout’ (taken from the 1980 ‘The Black Album’ album)
‘Lively Arts’ (taken from the 1980 ‘The Black Album’ album)
‘Silly Kids Games’ (taken from the 1980 ‘The Black Album’ album)
‘Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde’ (taken from the 1980 ‘The Black Album’ album)
‘Devil In Disguise’ (taken from the 2018 ‘Evil Spirits’ album)
‘Stranger On The Town’ (taken from the 1982 ‘Strawberries’ album)
‘The History Of The World (Part 1)’ (taken from the 1980 ‘The Black Album’ album)
‘I Don’t Care’ (taken from the 2018 ‘Evil Spirits’ album)
‘Love Song’ (taken from the 1979 ‘Machine Gun Etiquette’ album)
‘1 Of The 2’ (taken from the 1977 ‘Damned Damned Damned’ album)
‘We’re So Nice’ (taken from the 2018 ‘Evil Spirits’ album)
‘New Rose’ (taken from the 1977 ‘Damned Damned Damned’ album)
‘Neat Neat Neat’ (taken from the 1977 ‘Damned Damned Damned’ album)
‘Curtain Call’ (taken from the 1980 ‘The Black Album’ album)
‘Ignite’ (taken from the 1982 ‘Strawberries’ album)
‘There Ain’t No Sanity Clause’ (taken from 1980 ‘There Ain’t No Sanity Clause’ single)
‘Smash It Up (Part 1) & (Part 2)’ (taken from the 1979 ‘Machine Gun Etiquette’ album)
Meanwhile in London, Gary Numan stated during his Royal Albert Hall concert tonight that “I’ve been doing this for a very, very long time and this is the best night of my life!”. Has he got a tad carried away? Possibly he could take into consideration the night that he married Gemma or the birth of his first, second or third daughters or even his ‘farewell’ Wembley Arena 26th, 27th or 28th April 1981 gigs? I will just have to ask my mates after I have finished this article – Damned if I do, Damned if I don’t!
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