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Professor and the Madman - 100 Club, London, 11/8/2018

  by Peter Cole

published: 13 / 10 / 2018

Professor and the Madman - 100 Club, London, 11/8/2018


In a venue forever linked to the pioneers of punk, Peter Cole watches two of the old guard come together with some American visitors to show London how it's done in a Damned good show.

There is no doubt who most of the crowd at the 100 Club have come to see, on what is billed as a Professor and the Madman headline show in London. Alfie Agnew and Sean Elliott, the outfit’s two frontmen have proper punk pedigree via their stint in North American luminaries D.I.. But as soon as the band take the stage the front row camera phones come out and they’re all pointed at Rat Scabies, the drummer who will forever be defined by his starring role in the Damned. The bassist he worked with back then - Paul Gray - is also on stage, and sharing the adulation of a crowd peppered with T-shirts for their old band. Gray and Scabies back together is a rare treat for punks of a certain age - or newer models appreciative of a classic combination. For a while it seems like this might be less a rock show than a celebrity meet-and-greet and selfie opportunity. The strangeness of lots of old punks pulling out cameras and phones to take pictures of the "legendary backing band" combining with Agnew and Elliott, did bring a fan convention feel to the gig. And it is undoubtedly odd that people who broke so many of the traditions of music are so happy to have not advanced or evolved very much in the decades since. But playing live, Scabies and Gray bring a different energy to a band whose recent album angles more towards pop melodies than towards the Damned’s 'Black Album'. Scabies really can let it rip - even behind a plastic screen and with two frontmen he has barely spent any time in the same country with, let alone the same room. His driving drums - all cymbals and snares and smashing runs - mix with the pumping bass from Gray. It is infectious, engaging, loud. A reminder that these people shaped this music; and they still know how to work it. Topped up with American-accented punk fronting of Agnew and Elliott, the four reclaim some small part of sterilised, bleached clean 21st century central London as a place for the grimy excitement of the rawcus and noisy mayhem that made the 100 Club a key part of the first wave of punk. At the end another connection is made as Gray’s bandmate via Eddie and the Hot Rods, Graeme Douglas, joins for a take on that band’s Quit This Town. The nostalgia trip of this show is unmistakable, but Professor and the Madman channel this into an energy-laden performance that would not have shamed any era at this basement of dubious acoustics.

Also at 100 Club, London

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Professor and the Madman - 100 Club, London, 11/8/2018

Professor and the Madman - 100 Club, London, 11/8/2018

Professor and the Madman - 100 Club, London, 11/8/2018

Professor and the Madman - 100 Club, London, 11/8/2018

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