TVD Live Shots: The Damned at the Eventim Apollo, 10/28

It’s the concert that they said would never happen, but it finally did. After two years of pandemic-related postponements, the original lineup of The Damned kicked off the first show of their much anticipated UK mini-tour.

Seeing all four members walk onto the stage with smiles on their faces was something special, but hearing the explosion of sound that ignited as they kicked into high gear was a once in a musical lifetime moment. The last time the original lineup shared the stage together was back in 1991, and Scabies hasn’t performed with The Damned since the release of Not of This Earth in 1995. The rift between band members was very real and, at times, very public, but tonight hatchets were buried and the most important punk band from the UK showed us that they still have plenty of noise to make.

The importance of The Danmed cannot be understated. They were the first UK punk band to release a record and the first UK punk band to tour the US. Their single “New Rose” was recorded in just one day, and their eponymous debut Damned Damned Damned was recorded in only two. It’s raw, loud, and perfectly captures the chaos in the early days and the creative nuclear blast that set the band on a path of self-destruction. It’s a very different record from the one that slowed things down, upped the production, ultimately grabbed all the attention, and came in the form of the Pistols’ debut.

If you are a fan from back in the day or even a new fan who’s been reading all the stories about the booze, drugs, fighting, and controversies, it’s a miracle to be here now and witness this event. Not to mention that it’s all taking place at the legendary Hammersmith Apollo. Could there be a better venue? I think not.

The crowd was a mix of old-school punks, some reliving in their glory days while others seemed to be there out of pure speculation. Would they still have the chemistry? Will the songs hold up live? Will it be enough to silence the critics? The answer was a resounding yes to all of the above.

Scabies was clearly on a tear and on a mission to pound the shit out of the drums as only he can. Vanian glided across the stage in his glorious black suit and leather gloves; his signature Elvis-style mic traded in for the traditional mic—I’m guessing for the raw edge of the early stuff. Captain Sensible was his usual animated self, but with a bit more freedom to bounce around as he traded his signature Gibson SG for a violin-style, Paul McCartney bass.

The setlist is composed of the band’s first two albums which featured this magnificent founding lineup—Damned Damned Damned and Music for Pleasure—21 songs clocking in at just over 70 minutes. The debut album was played in its entirety, along with six tracks from Music for Pleasure and, surprisingly, four covers. “Help” by The Beatles, “I Feel Alright” by the Stooges opened the show, “Pills” by Bo Diddley, and “The Last Time” by the Stones closed out the show.

Highlights for me were every song from the first album that I loved so much. The album’s fury and fun sounded like it could have come out yesterday, and the delivery was as if time had stood still for more than four decades. Even though I got hit with more beers that night than in the last ten years of shooting gigs, it was an epic night and yet another bucket list show to check off. Long live The Damned. A few more dates are happening next week, so get on it. I might actually go again.

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