THE DAMNED + THE PIRANHAS 4+ – CONCORDE 2, BRIGHTON 26 & 27.06.19
I have been following The Damned for over 40 years now and I must report that this week’s two concerts by them at the ever popular Concorde 2 in Brighton were the very best that I have witnessed from the outfit since Sunday 27th September 1981, when I had the pleasure of seeing them at The Lyceum in London.
I have attended quite a number of Damned concerts over the years and they have been met with varying degrees of approval by myself, with the least favourite being a number of years ago at Worthing Pavilion Theatre located on the pier.
However, this time around they really seem invigorated, even more so than their recent appearance at Brighton Dome. It could be the fact that a majority of the set from these recent concerts were culled from their two classic Top 30 albums ‘Machine Gun Etiquette’ (1979) and ‘The Black Album’ (1980), and thus the lads were accustomed to playing them. Mind you, having said that, there’s quite a number that haven’t had an outing for many a day. So let’s put it down to the superb crowd reaction at the Concorde 2.
The current Damned personnel features Dave Vanian (62 – vocals, gothic fashion icon and real name David Lett), Captain Sensible (65 – guitar, born Raymond Burns, red beret wearer and Brighton resident), Monty Oxymoron (57 – keyboard, Sumerian Kyng and ‘unique’ Brighton resident), Pinch (53 – drums, real name Andrew Pinching) and Paul Gray (60 – bass, Essex boy and former Eddie & The Hot Rods member).
Amazingly as it may sound The Damned only celebrated their first ever Top 10 hit album last year with their latest offering ‘Evil Spirits’, whereas their ‘Phantasmagoria’ album frustratingly peaked at No.11 in 1985.
I would also suggest that on this occasion that the venue could have had a factor in the concerts success, it’s more down to earth and punky, as opposed to the other two glitzy venues in town, which arguably won’t suit The Damned’s style as much.
The sets of both nights were virtually identical, with the only change being that day two’s concert came in around six or seven minutes shorter than day one. This was because they strangely dropped ‘Liar’ from the set on day two and that Paul Gray’s bass temporarily gave up the ghost on day one for a few minutes. Wednesday’s length was just over 1 hour 52 minutes and Thursday’s was around 1hr 45 minutes.
Both night’s started with the intro tape playing the iconic ‘Theme From The Avengers’ by The Laurie Johnson Orchestra and on the final note The Captain announces “How Do?” and off the quintet launch into the legendary ‘Love Song’, which immediately segue’s into an awesome heavy Motorhead style drumming version ‘Second Time Around’ (aka ‘Machine Gun Etiquette’).
The showmanship purveils and track after track from ‘Machine Gun Etiquette’ is unleashed on an a ‘mainly’ unsuspecting Joe Public. I say ‘mainly’ as I happen to know that some in attendance have witnessed The Damned perform around 250 concerts. Yep, 250, they are that type of band, who luckily for them do have a loyal following that sees them through thick and thin, just as Gary Numan fans have.
‘Anti Pope’ is another highlight from the set for me. It’s so wonderful to hear some of these songs again, that I haven’t heard for a very long time. Fans were impressed and certainly voted with their pleasure at the busy merch stand after the gig, which had an impressive array of t-shirts in varying sizes.
‘Smash It Up’ is always a crowd favourite and the moshpit was bouncing very nicely thank you. I did note that as Thursday’s concert was announced first (and immediately sold out), hence Wednesday’s concert was added and very nearly sold out, that strangely the crowd barrier was moved further away from the stage on Thursday. Were the fans too close for comfort on day one? I doubt it! So day two was more squishy and the temperate on both nights was sweltering. Thankfully the side door remained open, otherwise it could have got rather unpleasant. Maybe the venue was giving more room for the official photographers on Thursday? Oh well, just a strange one really.
Anyway, back on the music and with ‘Machine Gun Etiquette’ complete, the guys raided ‘The Black Album’, which for me personally was a mixed bag, but it’s my mates favourite album, so horses for courses as they say.
Ironically on Wednesday during ‘So Messed Up’ Paul Gray’s bass decided that it was being overworked and a short delay ensued. On Thursday it was the turn of Monty’s keyboards, but the guys played on.
On Wednesday we learnt that ‘Nasty’ was apparently about a South Aftrican taxi driver, which features the lines “Catch, catch a horror taxi,I fell in love with my video nasty”, which on Thursday explains why Monty announced “Have we got a video?” which he regurgitated from The Young Ones TV series. Talking of which there are similarities between The Damned’s live performances and The Young Ones, with Monty and hippy Neil being the whipping boys.
On Thursday Dave Vanian informed us that ‘13th Floor Vendetta’ was written about Vincent Price and as for the existence of ‘Jet Boy, Jet Girl’, well better not go there eh Captain?
The normal set ended with ‘New Rose’ and ‘Neat Neat Neat’ and we were treated to two encores, which included the epic ‘Curtain Call’, the aforementioned ‘Jet Boy, Jet Girl’ and amazingly their rendition of Jefferson Airplane’s ‘White Rabbit’, which was most appreciated on Thursday by the Queen of Punk herself Jordan, who was standing next to me at the front in full view of The Captain. Who is clearly a fan of the lady, with his teasing her by saying that she has seen the light and realised The Damned are better than the Sex Pistols, although he did a Pistols riff for her and threw her a bottle of water along with an after-show party invite, so I’m sure he was forgiven.
Across the two days, there were quite a few other well known punk musicians in attendance offering their seal of approval for everything Damned. I spotted Nic Austin (from Chelsea), Brian Damage (from Nuffin’) and Peter Bywaters (from Peter & The Test Tube Babies) to name just three.
The Damned setlists were the same except where indicated:
(Intro) ‘Theme From The Avengers’ (The Laurie Johnson Orchestra)
‘Machine Gun Etiquette’ (aka ‘Second Time Around’)
‘I Just Can’t Be Happy Today’
‘Plan 9 Channel 7’
‘Noise Noise Noise’
‘Looking At You’ (MC5 cover)
‘Liar’ (played on Wednesday 26th June only)
‘Smash It Up (Parts 1 & 2)’
‘So Messed Up’
‘Standing On The Edge of Tomorrow’
‘Street Of Dreams’
‘13th Floor Vendetta’
‘Wait For The Blackout’
‘Neat Neat Neat’
‘Jet Boy, Jet Girl’ (Elton Motello cover)
‘White Rabbit’ (Jefferson Airplane cover)
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Support on both nights came from the delightful Piranhas, or as they are technically called these days Piranhas 4+. Or maybe that should now be 4++ as they have changed drummers since I last saw them as Stuart Dyehouse was replaced by Ken Brotherston. The rest of the gang being the legend that is Mr ‘Boring’ Bob Grover (lead vocals/guitar), Gary Browne (guitar/vocals), Bon Besom (saxophone) and Stu Wagstaff (bass). I should actually add here that Bon briefly climbed of local punk irritant/hero* (*delete as applicable) Smelly’s shoulders during The Damned set on Wednesday, but was quickly encouraged otherwise by the security staff.
I’ve seen the Brighton based Piranhas several times down the years and their two Concorde 2 half hour set’s were crammed with nine old classics which obviously included the mega-catchy ‘Tom Hark’ as well as a recent corker ‘Pink Elephants’ and on Thursday they sneaked in an extra number from their 1980 self-titled album at the end of the set, that being ‘Green Don’t Suit Me’.
Bob is such a likeable fellow, who by his own admittance, likes a drink or two, but they were a well rehearsed unit on both nights and clearly enjoyed themselves. Arguably one of the most underrated punk/ska bands that have ever existed!
The Piranhas 4+ setlists were the same except where indicated:
‘I Don’t Want My Body’
‘Fiddling While Babylon Burns’
‘Getting Beaten Up’
‘Green Don’t Suit Me’ (played on Thursday 27th June only)
Further information on The Piranhas can be found HERE.
View terrific photos from these two gigs by clicking each of the links below:
The Damned Wednesday 26th June 2019 gig – CLICK HERE.
The Damned Thursday 27th June 2019 gig – CLICK HERE.
The Piranhas Wednesday 26th June 2019 gig – CLICK HERE.
The Piranhas Thursday 27th June 2019 gig – CLICK HERE.
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