Last night one of the earliest and best punk rock bands of all time made a long overdue return to the Metro and that was The Damned. The band is celebrating their 35th anniversary by going on their first US tour in years and they had something special planned for these shows. The Metro was a fitting place to host the show as the band and venue have a long history together dating back more than a quarter century. What made this Damned show different from their ordinary gigs was that they would be playing Damned Damned Damned and The Black Album in their entirety for this tour which just so happen to be two of the band’s best albums.
Th’ Legendary Shack Shakers took the stage first as the club was steadily filling up. They were a four piece rockabilly band. The had the prerequisite stand-up bass player and the singer sometimes sang through one of those megaphone styled gimmick mics. He also played a lot of harmonica. Their songs were up-tempo and fun and they put on a 45 minute set that was mostly quite enjoyable but near the end it felt just a bit long.
The club was good and full by the time that The Damned took the stage and in the crowd you could see a ton of older generation fans as well as some younger faces who wouldn’t have even been born yet when The Damned released the two albums they’d be showcasing. The one thing the entire crowd had in common regardless of age was their excitement to see the band play again whether it was their first time or tenth. The show had that air of a special evening to it that only happens on rare occasions. Captian Sensible was the first one to take the stage to a huge round of applause and he entertained the crowd with a bit of banter as his band mates joined him on stage. The Captain made mention that this was the 35th anniversary of The Damned and then declared “and this is Damned Damned Damned“
The band played “Neat Neat Neat” and the crowd was instantly transformed back to 1976. The songs sounded as great and fresh last night as they did 35 years ago when the record was released. The band also played them easily as fast as they did back then and with just as much energy. Not only are the songs timeless but the band members (both original and more recent) are too. 35 years of playing these songs together only means that they could only be played to the highest level of satisfaction and that’s just what they did as they played all the songs from their debut album in order. The big “hits” like “New Rose” and “Neat Neat Neat” sounded as good as ever and it was a real treat to hear them bust out the songs they haven’t played in 30 years like “Fish” and “So Messed Up”. Damned Damned Damned is one of the greatest punk rock albums of all time and having the band play the album in its entirety was akin to receiving the greatest birthday present of all time.
The band stopped a lot between songs and talked to the audience. Dave and The Captain were very entertaining with their fun, between song banter. The Captain was especially in fine form and lived up to his reputation of being the big showman of the band. Dave’s vocals sounded as good as ever and his voice has not aged a day in 35 years and if anything has only gotten smoother. They ended the first set the same way their first album ends, with “I Feel Alright” which is a Stooges cover. This one really got the crowd moving and was a great finish to the first part of the evening.
After about a 15 minute intermission the band returned to the stage. The Captain had done a costume change and was wearing a fluffy Dutch Boy outfit with all kinds of ruffles and made of what appeared to be velvet. He declared “It is now 1980 and we played more than just punk rock, we had a little hand in starting off what became known as goth music” and said they put out an album called The Black Album and that they were going to play it now. They started off with “Wait for the Blackout” which blended right into “Lively Arts” just like on the album. It sounded even better than the first album tracks did and the keyboards sounded really good. The sound was spot-on and whoever was doing sound for the band that night did an amazing job. They proceeded to play the rest of the album in order with some more entertaining between-song banter and came to an amazing climax with “Curtain Call”, whose intro was spine chilling. They played the full 17 minute version of the song which was one of the highlights of an already amazing performance. When it was over they took a bow and left the stage to huge applause.
As if that wasn’t enough, the band came out one final time to play a three song encore that they left to the fans to pick. They started with an odd but excellent choice in “Eloise” which sounded better than the last time they played it in the Metro years ago. Sadly a few fans’ request for “Grimly Fiendish” went ignored but they played “Love Song” which made the crowd go crazy and then honored someone else’s request for “Anti Pope” which was a huge surprise and one great high note to end the show with. When all was said and done the band put in two hours on stage giving everyone more than their money’s worth as it was easily the best show of the year.