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Damned - Albert Hall, Manchester, 11/4/2023

  by Neil Kinsella

published: 26 / 5 / 2023

Damned - Albert Hall, Manchester, 11/4/2023

The Damned didn’t need holograms to put on a jaw- dropping, dead-waking,show of old and new songs at Manchester’s fittingly gothic Albert Hall. Dave Vanian and Captain Sensible can still party like it’s 1977 - the year they blew my flares off for good with their first punks off the blocks album, 'Damned Damned Damned.' This tour doesn’t fail to deliver the old favourites but also previews and showcases their latest offering, 'Darkadelic', which is released on 28th April. On the evidence of tonight’s masterful performance it deserves to do better than well. Never the iconoclasts, the Damned always put the fun into punk as did the Ramones.”Fuck art, let’s dance” was a T-shirt slogan back in the day but it could also have been their manifesto then, now and in the intervening years. Despite their ups and downs. they have remained gloriously resilient, surprisingly youthful and prolific and thanks be to God for that. They don’t disappoint these days. On my way up to the main hall the Eastern European Security guy looked puzzled by the assembling crowd: " So many bald heads, no? ...and yet so many young faces too! Very strange.” I replied, “ Yes, but in a good way. “ The main hall and balcony was full, hot and ready to go when the besuited and fedora sporting Vanian sneaks a look at the waiting throng before 'The Man With The Golden Arm' theme cranks up and he and the Captain together with Paul Gray (bass), Will Taylor (drums) and the exuberant organ grinder himself, Monty Oxymoron, ascend. The first impression is how comfortable this band is with each other and with the crowd. They own the stage and move purposefully but nonchalantly. The Captain, as ever, the wise-cracking master of ceremonies, and Vanian the suited and booted stylish and confident crooner. Paul Gray sports a sensible beret in contrast with Dennis the Menace. who is about to kick off his brilliant guitar work for the night with 'Street of Dreams'. The crowd is up and running with them before they follow up with 'The Invisible Man', 'Wait for the Blackout' and 'Lively Arts', all delivered bright and tight and reassuringly loud. The new songs are introduced without apology and they certainly don’t need one. The writing is fresh and vital and there is no drop in the level of excitement and appreciation despite their relative unfamiliarity. These songs have legs and they work with the audience: 'Bad Weather Girl', 'You’re Gonna Realise', 'Western Promise', 'Wake the Dead' and Paul Gray’s 'Motorcycle Man' all hit the spot. The subject of the final new song, 'Leader of the Gang' isn’t too hard to work out either. Once through the new tracks things only get better with a resounding rendition of 'Born To Kill'. 'Love Song' mellows and balances things out, before it’s followed by 'Second Time Around' and 'Standing On The Edge of Tomorrow' - a set up for a barnstorming end to the main set of 'Neat Neat Neat'. By now the audience are generating enough heat to solve an energy crisis. Everyone anticipates that the encore will deliver more than one anthem and it does. 'Eloise' winds its way into heads before transmitting to feet and mass backing vocals from the crowd. They have permission to go wild - it’s time to 'Smash It Up'. Obviously! The second encore is inevitable and relative calm ensues with 'Girl. I’ll Stop at Nothing' before the elephant in the room finally emerges: “Is she really going out with him?” If I’d been wearing flares. I’d be looking round for them by now. There’s a brand 'New Rose' in town. Who knew? Photos by Andrew Twambley www.twambley.com

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Damned - Albert Hall, Manchester, 11/4/2023

Damned - Albert Hall, Manchester, 11/4/2023

Damned - Albert Hall, Manchester, 11/4/2023

Damned - Albert Hall, Manchester, 11/4/2023

Damned - Albert Hall, Manchester, 11/4/2023

Damned - Albert Hall, Manchester, 11/4/2023

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Neil Kinsella enjoys at Albert Hall in Manchester enjoys an exuberant set from punk icons The Damned of several songs from their forthcoming 'Darkadelic' album as well as many classics. Photos by Andrew Twambley.

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