Concert review: The Damned, The Powerstation

By Scott Kara

1 comment
Captain Sensible wasn't happy about a beer-throwing incident at his Auckland show with The Damned. Photo / Supplied
Captain Sensible wasn't happy about a beer-throwing incident at his Auckland show with The Damned. Photo / Supplied

When someone threw a plastic cup of beer at Captain Sensible of British punk band the Damned for the second time at their Auckland show last night, he was not happy.

So it's not very punk rock to throw your toys over a cup or two of spilt beer. And if it had been back in the good old days of the late 70s, when they still allowed beer bottles at gigs, the Captain more than likely would have thrown a few back at the crowd and not given a hoot.

But he's 56 now, albeit still with a mighty and mischievous spring in his step, and he just wants to play some songs and have fun. And fair enough too, so have a little respect.

After this incident he stopped the show, walked off stage with the rest of the band, and they had only played a handful of songs.

What followed was a hilarious scene where an announcer asked the person who threw the beer to own up because "we're all grown-ups here" and if they didn't then they would "spoil it for everyone else".

It was like being back at school assembly. The naughty boy was big enough to own up and the show continued in good cheer.

That's the thing, the Damned are a nice bunch of blokes - and as well as playing songs they put on a fine floorshow. Especially the loudmouth Captain, who gave gyp to everyone from the Pope to Paul Weller and Noel Gallagher.

He's a stark contrast to mysterious and nervy singer Dave Vanian, the only other original in the 2012 incarnation of the band that formed in 1976.

Apart from their first two, maybe three albums, in the late 70s, the Damned were never just a straightforward punk rock band.

And for their first show in New Zealand for 25 years - incidentally, at this very same venue when by all accounts they played a shambles of a set - they did their version of punk rock.

The 90-minute set veered from the floor-bending roughness of punk classics New Rose (the first ever punk single released in 1976) and a pummelling Neat Neat Neat, the trashy gonzo rock of songs like Nasty and Ignite, and then songs from their darker musical period such as gothic hoe-down Shadow of Love from 1985's Phantasmagoria.

Earlier in the night, the old guard of punk rockers must have wondered what they had struck with local guitar hero Doug Jerebine (along with drummer extraordinaire Tony Hopkins) conjuring up an Indian-influenced, psychedelic jazz rock mantra on his six-string bass.

But when he picked up his seven-string guitar (who knew they existed?) for some wild and wailing Kiwi Hendrix magic it was an unusual, yet fitting segue into the Damned's mostly loud and rowdy set.

While their swooning gothic tracks subdued the crowd a little, they thumped it out, with Vanian stalking the stage like a punk crooner, as they reeled off song after song with New Rose sounding bassier and beefier than ever and the extended version of mid 80s hit Eloise was a rousing sing-along.

But it was the romantic rumble of Love Song and the encore of Smash It Up (Parts 1 & 2) - the requiem-like first part of which was written for T Rex's Marc Bolan says the Captain - that were the highlights.

It was neat neat neat neat, indeed.

What: The Damned
Where: The Powerstation, Auckland
When: Wednesday, January 26

- NZ Herald

- NZ Herald

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