Arrived at the venue to early really and had to queue.  A few faces where in the line and all seemed eager to see The Damned.  One yankee passer by did ask me what we were all waiting for and when I replied 'A Damned gig' seemed puzzled.  On retrospect I should have said 'A bus' and gave the bugger nightmares about the British transport system and its clientele.  Anyway eventually we were in and immediately put in a bad mood by the prices, an choice of beer.  Nearly £3 for a can - looks like this will be a sober one.

First news was that Emergency weren't playing and it was just Dog Toffee in support.  Had a chat to a few mates and then a quick toot around the venue.  Basically this place is crap with a garbage layout and an all round poor atmosphere.  A very claustrophobic joint with all sense of direction gone.  Lets see what the sounds like.

Dog Toffee were good.  A cocky frontman with all round good musicianship produced a fine performance.  I hadn't heard anything from this bunch before but on this showing they do deserve a second look.  The guy who joined them for a guitar session towards the end of the set was a right star and looked like a excited kid who had just found his favorite long lost toy.  Very entertaining to say the least.

Eventually we got The Damned.  Personally I find them a showy, clown-like bunch of blokes who really don't personify the punk ethos.  The usual piss taking shenanigans from that smaller than life character Captain Sensible is now a parody of what it was and seems lame in the extreme.  Vanian did his usual posing and strutting with the rest of the mob just faceless extras.  'Wait for the Blackout' was exceptional in its sound and stood out from a rather well played set.  It was refreshing to see a band playing new stuff rather than just relying on the old faves and it was also good to see them being played with such efficiency.  

The interval in which Sensible gave his crowd cranking rendition of 'Happy Talk' was pathetic.  An egotistical maniac with plenty of talent to avoid being this underwhelming irritant must realise that enough is enough.  No one finds it funny anymore and only the moronic minority fall for your antagonistic bait.  A bit of banter is fine and is always good to set the crowd going but this seems a trifle too spiteful and hits all the wrong chords.  Its as though he enjoys setting himself above the pure punk rock fan which leaves a sour taste to all who see it.  'Sensibles a Wanker' is wasted breath but not far off the mark.

Back to the session and it carried on much the same as it left off.  Highlights were 'Neat, Neat, Neat' and a couple of the new tracks I still don't know the names of.  In retrospect The Damned played well but its hardly streetpunk therefore it really isn't for me.  Good luck to the hardcore faithful, for example my old college tutor who was as impressed as ever, but give me something more substantial and honest any day.

Review by Fungalpunk/OMD (2 July 02)