Last Sunday we ventured out to see the Patriarchs of Punk – The Damned. Husband has had me listening to American ‘punk’ for years Sum 41, Green Day, Blink 182 and it was time to educate him on the origin of this music genre.
Last time I saw The Damned was over 30 years ago at the Hammersmith Odeon and on our way across to the Bournemouth O2 I wondered if they had garnered a vibrant new youth following in the subsequent years – the answer was a resounding NO!
The audience was predominantly male (around 95%) and middle aged. Bullet belts had been swapped with beer bellies and offensive T’s with checked shirts. Chatting to one woman she brightly told me that she’d seen them in the summer and loved it, “it’s like youth club for the over 50’s” and unwillingly I couldn’t have agreed more.
As the on-stage sound checks were completed and the house lights dimmed I had a niggling worry that I might be disappointed, if they were just a figment of some happy punk past but soon as the first chord was struck all concerns disappeared. They might have been around for 40 years but they can still play; old songs have become rock anthems, tight melodies and dare I say musical arrangements working in synergy with Dave Vanian’s silken and chilling voice which has improved 1000%-fold with age. He kept us spellbound with Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde then moving seamlessly into the explosive punk energy of tracks like Neat Neat Neat and New Rose.
For over 90 minutes we cheered, we sang along, we stomped for an encore and got two! And when Captain Sensible said “we still got it” for the briefest of moments we all believed him.
As we left, going back into the freezing night air – every band member commented on the cold, it must be an age thing – it was touching to think that behind the net curtains of Suburban Dorset there are so many angry, middle-aged punks who want nothing more than to ‘Smash It Up’.