Category Archives: live review

Photo Gallery: Beale Street Music Festival (feat. Soundgarden)

Live at the Beale Street Music Festival 5/5-5/7/17, Memphis

Text & Photos by Mark Jackson

What if I were to tell you there was a magical place where you could see bands such as Soundgarden, Kings of Leon, Wide Spread Panic, Snoop Dogg, Wiz Khalifa, 2 Chainz, Death Cab for Cutie, Sturgill Simpson, Highly Suspect, Machine Gun Kelly, and many more artist including a tent stage dedicated to only blues music, eat the best BBQ you have ever tasted, walk on a world famous street that is also home to the blues, and visit Elvis’s home all for about one hundred and fifty dollars or less.

Well you should start saving now and planning your travel for the 2018 Beale Street Music Festival that happens the first weekend of May every year. This is without a doubt one of the best value music festivals in the U.S. and often overlooked for the great music festival that it is. This festival that has the Tennessee Arkansas bridge as a backdrop takes place right downtown on the river, just blocks from the world famous Beale Street. This festival has some of the friendliest, most professional, and helpful staff of the festivals that I have the pleasure of covering each year. BSMF always has a great selection of food vendors and alcohol at reasonable prices, but the must have food that you have to try before leaving Memphis is just a short walk from the festival. First and foremost is the BBQ available at many of the restaurants along Beale Street. My personal favorite would have to be The Pig on Beale also know as Pork with an attitude. The second must have would be Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken.

Now back to the festival. As I arrived downtown Memphis on Friday afternoon and checked into the Media trailer, I couldn’t wait to get to the stages and start a weekend full of diverse music acts. This festival always has a great mix of Blues, Rock, Pop, and Rap across four stages.

There are too many bands and stages for one Photographer/journalist to cover it all, so I had to choose which stage and artists to cover. The highlights of Friday for me were The Strumbellas, Grouplove, MGMT and Snoop Dogg, Talk about running the gamut.

Saturday would bring me to the River Stage first to catch one of my favorite bands being none other than Highly Suspect. Johnny came out looking like Clint Eastwood in one of his western movies. Johnny was definitely in a great mood and ready to perform as he strutted and danced around the stage as a DJ played music while the roadies finished their setup. Johnny even came to the edge of the stage to take some pictures of the crowd and of course a selfie with the huge crowd behind him. With the stage now ready Johnny, and brothers Richard and Ryan Meyers wasted no time rocking the crowd with the many hit songs they have under their belts. At one point during the show Richard and Ryan even crowd surfed while Johnny sang and played guitar. This band was one of the highlights of my weekend. I can’t wait to see these guys again!

Next up for me was Silversun Pickups. Silversun has a great sound and I have been hooked on their song “Circadian Rhythm”. Many have compared them to Smashing Pumpkins. Silversun Pickups are out on tour this summer. I suggest you check them out if they come to your area.

8:40 p.m. brought up a hard choice for me as X Ambassadors and 2 Chainz were performing at the same time. I do love X Ambassadors, but decided to check out 2 Chainz on the Bud Light Stage. 2 Chainz had a DJ hyping up the crowd before he came out and when he came out he proceeded to blow the crowd away. The Swelling crowd spilling in from other stages were whipping in a happy frenzy during his entire performance and we still had Wiz to go!

Wiz Khalifa picked up right where 2 Chainz left off and was a perfect way to end a Saturday night with the massive crowd dripping in sweat from jumping up and down, rapping, and dancing for three plus hours.

Sunday kicked off at 2:15 at the Bud Light Stage with Marcella & her lovers. Marcella has a divine Memphis soulful voice and powerful stage presence. I suspect we will be hearing more from her in the next few years.

Next up would be Machine Gun Kelly on the FedEx Stage. MGK is out on tour in support of his brand new album Bloom. MGK is a rapper, singer, “wildboy” and crossover mainstream singer/rapper with the huge hit “Bad Things” with Camila Cabello. If you have not seen Kelly live you are missing out! MGK is one of if not the most energetic performer I’ve ever seen. I always look forward to covering him and his full band.

Alter Bridge with lead singer Myles Kennedy was next up and the park was quickly filling up as people were steadily streaming in from the Famous Beale Street bars and restaurants. As the sun began to set it was time for Tori Kelly on the River Stage and Ben Harper & the innocent criminals on the Bud Light Stage.  Next up was Bush. Bush was another highlight of the weekend for me. I have been a fan ever since hearing their album Sixteen Stone released in December of 1994 with songs such as “Comedown and “Glycerine”. Gavin Rossdale’s voice sounded as tight as ever and he has mastered the rock and roll guitarist. Bush (Gavin) wins best high jump and best light show of the weekend as well.

Last but not least was the Headliner of the weekend, Soundgarden! Chris Cornell and the guys brought their A game and the crowd was ready for a rocking good trip down memory lane, with songs like “Spoonman” and “Outshined” this was one of the best Rock performances I have been privileged to attend.

Tragically, Cornell passed away this week following a performance in Detroit, an apparent suicide. Soundgarden had been scheduled to make appearances at Rock On The Range and Rocklahoma, and I was greatly anticipating those performances. R.I.P.


2 Chainz

Gavin of Bush




Highly Suspect

(this could be YOU in the audience… were you there?)




Silversun Pickups

Snoop (who else?)


Chris Cornell (RIP)


Tori Kelly

Wiz K


Twin Peaks 5/11/17, Atlanta

The Chicago indie rockers helped kick off the Shaky Knees Festival in fine style at Terminal West – the main SKF events are this weekend.


It’s Shaky Knees Music Fest weekend in Atlanta, and I caught one of my favorite bands playing a warm up show Thursday night at Terminal West.

If Nick Lowe heard Twin Peaks he’d called them bashers – and he’d mean it as a compliment, as do I.  Tough, fast, brash, energetic hard-rocking indie-rock at its best.  This young band has been at it several years – and their hard work is evident from the moment they take the stage whether it’s a big festival stage or a club with confidence, chops, and fun, and ain’t that what its all about?   They call Chicago home but they can’t get back there too often – seems like they are constantly on the road.  Three LPs under their belt – and a new live double-record ‘Urbs in Horto.

Twin Peaks the band is Cadien Lake James (lead vocals, guitar) Clay Frankel (vocals, guitars),  Jack Dolan (bass, vocals) Colin Croom on keys, and Connor Brodner who I think is one of the finest, most fun to watch drummers out there.  He straps in, says I’m driving, and boom – the roller coaster ride is on.  Check ‘em out –

Slowdive 5/11/17, Atlanta

The hills – or, more accurately, the halls of Atlanta’s Variety Playhouse – are alive with the sound of shoegaze… Slowdive wrapped up their US tour with a lead-in to the annual Shaky Knees Festival, and did so in fine style.


Super-psych-shoegaze giants Slowdive, on the last US show on their 2017 tour, arrived at the Variety Playhouse in Atlanta’s Little 5 Points area, and the capacity crowd brought the love.

Slowdive formed in Reading, Berkshire in 1989, made some records and some noise, broke up for years – reformed in 2014 and came back bigger and maybe better than ever.   The band is Rachel Goswell on vocals and guitar, Simon Scott on drums, Neil Halstead on vocals and guitar, Nick Chaplin on bass and Christian Savill on guitar.   The new LP is Slowdive – which, incidentally, can be scored as a gorgeous clear vinyl edition if you know where to shop – so check it out and get more tour dates at the band’s website –


I suspect this audience would have been happy just hearing the music – but the band’s impressive light show was quite a spectacle unto itself.  Hope you can get some of that from the photos.  (Higher-rez versions of these images are going up at shortly so check ‘em out. )







MONO 5/8/17, Atlanta

Dates: May 8, 2017

Location: The Earl, Atlanta GA

Magical instrumental music from Tokyo descends, Godzilla-like, on The Earl…


MONO will make all your sonic dreams come true – and throw in some amazing nightmares for good measure.  They are four cats from Japan playing magical instrumental music.  The stacks of Marshall amps onstage tell me it is rock, but the finesse and skill of the band makes me want to say there’s a lot more to it than that.

From their Facebook page – “The Tokyo, Japan based 4 piece Instrumental Rock band MONO was originally formed in 1999. Their unique approach of blending orchestral arrangements and shoegaze guitar noise in their music has been held in extremely high regard; so much so, that the band’s musicianship can no longer be sustained by Rock music alone and was praised by British Musical Magazine NME as “This is music for the Gods”.

Lucky Gods, and lucky capacity crowd at The Earl on a Monday night – who were hanging on ever note and nuance, from the pin-drop quiet to the roaring thunderous crescendos.

The band is Takaakira ‘Taka’ Goto (guitar), Tamaki (bass, piano),Yoda (guitar) and Yasunori Takada (drums). They are on tour for the next month with what looks like a couple more weeks of US dates – Go!


(About these photos – I wasn’t trying to get artsy with them or anything.  It’s just that while the lighting at the club was perfect for the mood, not so much for this photographer.  I’ve got a camera that can suck light out of a deep space galaxy in the night sky, but it was tough going here.  Yet I love this venue for photography – if it was easy it wouldn’t be fun.   Larger hi-rez photos will be at and might be easier viewing there on a computer screen.  Everyone still has one of those, right?  – John Boydston)



GIVING IT THEIR ALL: Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit

Best band in the world? Just maybe… Live during the Middle of the Map Fest at KC’s Uptown Theater on May 5, the man and the band wrenched emotion out of thin air while showcasing material both old and from the new album. Below, watch some 2017 live clips.


I’m sitting in a dark bar writing about the previous night’s performance of Jason Isbell and his Alabama brothers (and wife Amanda Shires) in the 400 Unit, scribbling my reflections on the back of a Budweiser box with a borrowed pen.

Squinting in the low light of The Rendezvous, my hometown punk rock bar, I try to piece together what I saw at the Uptown Theater in Kansas City with one of my best friends in the world the previous evening.  Prince is blasting from the overly loud jukebox.  I try to think of memories and melody.  I’m waiting for a band called the Creeps, writing about what could be the tightest, best band I’ve ever seen in my life.

In Kansas City, as part of the yearly Middle of the Map Fest, three days of national, regional and local acts of every size, shape and flavor, Isbell and the 400 Unit readied their fans for the upcoming release of Isbell’s The Nashville Sound.  (June 16th on Southeastern Records)

Isbell and his compatriots showed on this Friday night in the barbecue capital of the world, why they should be considered in the conversation for best band in America and Isbell as one of the finest guitarists of the last twenty years.  He and the 400 Unit, a group of topnotch players that have been with Isbell for years, proved that they are some of the best players in any genre, of any band going today.

They hit all the spots, emotional highs and spiritual lows, showing what it means to be human, to feel pain and joy, loss and victory; to know the consequences of your mistakes, and what it feels like to save yourself from yourself, to let love in and put all your faith in someone with no fear.

Isbell, multiple 2016 Grammy winner and former guitarist for Drive-By Truckers, shapes songs out of the things we have all felt: uncontrollable love (“Cover Me Up”), the pressure of passing on something of substance as a father or mother (“Outfit”), being stuck in place you wish was someplace else (“Speed Trap Town”), or the crushing feeling of rejection and loss. (“Songs she Sang in the Shower”)

As a guitarist, lyricist, and musician, Isbell is a man beyond his 38 years.  Emotion, it’s clear, runs deep in the Muscle Shoals, Alabama favorite son.  The South is at the very root of which he is as a person and writer, able to touch something inside those listening; melody, harmony and laying it all out on the table, all things coming together in a way that “country” acts like Florida Georgia Line and Luke Bryan will never get to experience.

Opening with “Go It Alone” from Here We Rest, Isbell and the 400 Unit rolled out a set that would make fans of all stages of Isbell’s career thankful that they went out into the world on a beautiful Midwestern spring night, to share something with a room full of like-minded music lovers.  If you missed it, if you chose to continue the sedentary life, sticking with what you know, never looking at the next page, playing it safe at home with some ice cream, you missed something special.

Those of us inside that beautiful, nearly century-old theater got a taste of the new record, a rougher, bigger, more rock influenced sound with “Cumberland Gap,” the beautifully haunted, sorrowful playing and tone of “If We We’re Vampires.”  There was the pull-yourself-up motivation of “Hope the High Road,” as well as the Drive-by Truckers classic story song, the title track from the 2003 album Decoration Day.

Isbell and the 400 Unit gave it all they had on that stage, leaving behind everything for us to contemplate, carrying on the tradition of blurring the lines between country and rock like Uncle Tupelo, Gram Parsons, Gene Clark, Rick Nelson, The Bottlerockets, and the Allman Brothers before them.  Leaving into that Missouri night, I was happy down to my soul, gone to ponder and count the days until Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit bring the show back to town.

I know I’ll be there. (Isbell will be touring throughout June and July, starting June 12 in Asheville. Dates at his website.)


Go it Alone


24 Frames

Something More than Free

Decoration Day



How to Forget

Cumberland Gap

Alabama Pines


Speed Trap Town

If it Takes a Lifetime

Cover Me Up

Super 8

If We Were Vampires

Flying Over Water

Never Gonna Change

Steel Panther 4/19/17, Nashville

Dates: April 19, 2017

Location: Marathon Music Works, Nashville TN

Currently on their 2017 Girls In A Row Tour, the metal outfit took over Nashville’s Marathon Music Works.

 Text & Photos by Mark Jackson

Opening for Steel Panther in Nashville was Citizen Zero, fronted by Josh Lemay. With a great voice and precision riffs Citizen Zero was a great opening act and I suspect we will be hearing more from these guys from Michigan.  (Pictured below.)

If you haven’t heard of Steel Panther and you have a sense of humor, then you are missing out on a great part of your life experience. Steel Panther is a combination of spoof ‘80s hair band, actors, and standup dirty comics. With songs like “Poontang Boomerang”, “Community Property”, “Gloryhole” ,”Asian Hooker”, and  “Eyes Of A Panther” Steel Panther has mastered funny great lyrics, stage moves, and rock star status musicians.

The David Lee Roth-looking frontman Michael Starr, badass guitar playing of Satchel, sassy bass-playing Lexxi Foxx, and Stix Zadinia on the sticks make up this glam metal rocking party machine. There is not a dull moment throughout the show between the great music and the constant sex jokes, usually aimed at the female audience. At one point they even pulled a female on stage and began to joke and sing to her, afterwards they invited all the ladies on stage to dance with them for a couple of songs.

The shtick of this magnified hair band got taken to the absurdity level, such as Lexxi putting on lip gloss and applying hairspray while holding a hand mirror. The the constant hip thrusting of Starr wouldn’t work if the musical skills didn’t back up the performance.

I must say, the highlight of the night for me was Satchel’s guitar solo that included Satchel playing the guitar and drums at the same time and both were on point! This was the best guitar solo I’ve witnessed to date. If you get the chance, do yourself a favor and relive your ‘80s with this great party band.

Marathon Music Works is the perfect-sized venue to see any show, as there’s not a bad spot in this intimate setting for viewing the stage, not to mention the close proximity to multiple bars. Marathon also has a customer-friendly staff who are very professional.

Trey Anastasio Band 4/14/17, Port Chester NY

Dates: April 14, 2017

Location: Capitol Theater, Port Chester NY

The Phish-man opened his Paper Wheels tour at the Capitol Theater with two sold out shows.


I had never seen Trey‘s new band play live before and soon found out how serious of a band this is. Trey is no stranger to the Capitol Theater, with Phish shows dating back to 1990. The theater went through a major renovation and was bought by Peter Shapiro, who owns the Brooklyn Bowls in Brooklyn Las Vegas and London. The Capitol is an amazing place to see live music. The band came out to a super hyped crowd and opened with “Sand” from the Phish album Farm House. From the get-go it was clear the band was feeling very comfortable and tuned in to one another. The professionalism of the band showed thoughout the show: an incredible horn section with backing vocals, amazing drums and percussion, a guy on bass that sat down the whole show and made it look easy, and a keyboard player who never brook away from his focus on multiple keyed instruments.

Last but not least, let’s not forget about Trey! An incredibly gifted  musician who just simply shreds on the guitar. The band jumped genres and did Toots and the Maytals’ “Sweet and Dandy” as well as the Wailers’ “Soul Rebel”. A big surprise for me was the Portugal The Man song, “Feel it Still,”which was just released a month or so ago by the band. Trey also covered “Clint Eastwood” by Gorillaz. Just a few highlights from a great live band. A very diverse, fun and enjoyable evening had by all.

PETER SILBERMAN – 4/2/17, Columbus (house concert)

Dates: April 2, 2017

Location: House Concert, Columbus OH

That applause next door? No, it’s not the neighbors cheering you on for your latest sexual conquest… in fact, you missed out on something far more entertaining (and lasting). Your next chance at Silberman’s tour dates.


House concerts are such a great alternative to club shows. There’s no hype or hard sell — they’re basically free of the commercialism. No security searches, no waiting for hours while management tries to sell as much booze as possible before the show begins, no noisy drunks talking through the music.

For the Columbus, Ohio, stop on Peter Silberman’s tour in support of his new solo album Impermanence, he chose a modest-size suburban house on a quiet residential street in Upper Arlington, not far from Ohio State University. The homeowner, Steven Worth, had offered his home via, a site that arranges for hosted “living room” concerts for touring musicians. Worth, a big music fan, had earlier hosted Lloyd Cole.

You knew you were at the right place for the Sunday evening concert because of a homemade yard sign — Silberman’s name was written, apparently with crayon, on white paper and surrounded by musical notes. One note dotted the “i” in his name. On the house’s front brick wall, just below the mail slot, were two more signs: one said “Wellcum evrea one,” the other “Welcome every one” with two stick-figure children and the name “Ianw” in green. This was an indication these signs were the work of Steven and Tonia Worth’s two seven-year-olds, Ian and Zoe.

The concert started at 8 p.m. on a Sunday, but by 7:30 the living-room floor was already filled with virtually all the people it could accommodate, and the chairs and sofa were taken, too. Arriving late, I was with a cluster of people standing or sitting in a passageway by the front door, near the aforementioned Ian and Zoe, both in pajamas, who were curious but also shy and didn’t stay long once music began. They went to their bedroom, but had trouble sleeping — requiring visits from their mom.

It seemed the right setting for Silberman, the singer/songwriter for Brooklyn band the Antlers, who has spoken in interviews about how this solo album has been an attempt for him to come to terms with hearing loss, both in his lyrics and the volume and texture of his music. This venue promoted reverence from his mostly young fans. To them, Silberman was a musician of honesty and sensitivity, thoughtfully trying to understand beauty in a world that can make what’s good about it as fragile as a fading sunset. I did not hear anyone talk during the show, not even a whisper, nor did anyone go to the bathroom or even cough. There were no refreshments served, either.

The area in front of the kitchen counter had been set up for musicians to sit and perform — they had microphones and small amps, so it wasn’t a purely acoustic show. But it was quiet.

Opening was the gifted guitarist Tim Mislock, who has played with the Antlers but also has been Kryzystoff in the Broadway and touring productions of Hedwig and the Angry Inch. He explained he was debuting songs from an upcoming album, Now Is the Last Best Time, that were based on his interests in Alzheimer’s patients. Before playing one meditative, somewhat ambient instrumental composition, he explained he would be thinking about the book Losing My Mind, Thomas DeBaggio’s account of his struggle with early-onset Alzheimer’s. “Feel free to think about whatever you want to think about,” he said. “If you want to close your eyes and take a nap, feel free.”

DeBaggio’s book is not a comforting story, so it struck me as extraordinary that this audience not only was willing to receive Mislock’s intentions, but to pay close attention to it.

The Antlers are a literary and artful band, but they are a band, which means Silberman’s voice is one part — granted, a very important part — of an overall sonic approach. But solo, with just his own airy, deliberative guitar work and Mislock’s very sympathetic support, you can really appreciate what a fine vocalist and songwriter he is. His voice has a kind of natural echo, a sweet shakiness and swooping high purity, reminiscent of Jeff Buckley. The searching quality of his spare, terse, poetic lyrics — he wants to transcend pain — recall David Sylvian’s Dead Bees on a Cake or Donovan’s Sutras.

He opened with Impermanence’s first song, the desirous “Karuna,” and followed with “Gone Beyond.” The latter’s opening lyrics, “I’m listening for you, Silence/But God, there’s so much noise/And now I fear I found you, you’re partially destroyed,” seem such a direct reference to his hearing problems that you instinctively shudder at his loss, but you also so admire his need as an artist to address this that you like him all the more. “Gone Beyond” is also a showcase for his voice’s ethereal, hymn-like high register.

When he sang so longingly about “no violence today” on “Ahimsa,” you could tell the plea was both personal in nature — related to his own difficulties — and political, meant for all of us.

Silberman also did such reflective Antlers’ songs as “Bear,” “Parade” and “Corsicana,” making all aware that he is building an estimable body of work.

The songs from Impermanence tend to flirt with floating off into the mystic, and Silberman was aware that their ephemeral quality, especially at the end of a weekend, could cause some tiredness among the attendees. “If you’ve just got to take a nap, don’t fight it,” he said.

There was a moment’s pause, and then Worth, standing near me, said, “That’s not working for a certain seven-year-old. She’s having a tough time back there,” referring to the children’s bedroom.

You’re not going to get that kind of audience/artist rapport anywhere else but a house concert. And maybe, too, you need an artist as gifted as Silberman to bring out such intimate openness.





Flaming Lips 4/2/17, Atlanta

Dates: April 2, 2017

Location: Tabernacle, Atlanta GA

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At venerable Atlanta venue the Tabernacle, Wayne Coyne & Co. made jelly out of the crowd’s collective brain…. Photo gallery follows the text. Wait, is that guy above naked?


The Flaming Lips is a legendary band that will take you on a magical journey throughout their show. The Lips proved it in Atlanta on a warm Spring night in an old church that is the iconic music venue Tabernacle. Literally, standing room only and we were all like a jar of pickles ready to explode, and then it happened, The Flaming Lips took the stage. A great roar from us all in attendance to what can only be describe as a uniquely creative experience. Gigantic inflatable mushrooms, strobe lights, confetti cannons, huge helium balloons floating throughout and the Lips front man, Wayne Coyne, conducting a musical journey.

This is how memories are made. People coming together to celebrate music. I’ve seen the Lips quite a bit and they are a band that doesn’t disappoint when performing live. It is almost like a psychedelic circus where imagination and creativity knows no boundaries. It is all wonderful.

Music is never lost by the wonderment of the psychedelic imagery projected on the screen behind the band or by the giant disco ball or even by the confetti falling. They are a rare band that incorporates creative genius and musical genius. This does not come along often enough in music in this present day. Yes, they have been around for years and yes they are a band that some say is the new Pink Floyd. Whether that is true is up to personal opinions. To me, they are and always will be the definition of creativity.

Rope lights that looks like fringe is lifted and lowered to the stage, at one point during the show while it is lowered to the stage a giant inflatable rainbow arch is lifted in it. Wayne Coyne is underneath and beautiful music is the result. Confetti cannons shoot confetti during the show and huge helium balloons float back and forth and the crowd helps in keeping them afloat. A few of the balloons burst and make a loud pop, but that does not stop the fun that we are having in the audience. Laser lights, strobe lights, even Wayne Coyne coming into the crowd riding on top of a mannequin horse wearing inflatable rainbow wings this is what dreams are made of. We were all amazed by this sight of him riding through the audience. A psychedelic dream came true from a band that will always be the band to see on everyone’s bucket list, my advice to you, Don’t Miss this Show!

Their new album is “Oczy Mlody” and is out now.

The band is wrapping up its tour TONIGHT, April 4, in St. Petersburg, Florida, at Jannus Live. Did you miss it?

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The Damned + Bleached 4/19/17, Denver

Dates: April 19, 2017

Location: Summit Music Hall, Denver CO

Summit Music Hall in Denver follows up on previous Riot Fest appearance, this time for a special 40th anniversary bash.


Wow, The Damned come back to Denver within 2 years of their last stop! Excellent! True, they visited our fair city in 2015 as part of that year’s Riot Fest and scorched the stage (they were my favorite band of that years R.F.). Here they were back on their 40th Anniversary tour  hitting most major outposts in America and beyond. Hard to believe but yes, it was 1977 when their classic debut, Damned Damned Damned was released. This crowd seemed hungry with anticipation.

Opening were Southern California all-female band Bleached (actually I think their drummer is male) who it had been a few years since I’d last seen them and they seem to have added more melody to their hard-rockin’ tunes. The core of the band is sisters Jennifer and Jessica Clavin who both have plenty of energy on stage (head waggin’ their brightly colored hair). They don’t have a new record out (their latest one was 2016’s Welcome the Worms on the Dead Oceans label) so I’m guessing they’re working on  a new one.

The Damned, straight from the UK and led by original members Dave Vanian and guitarist Captain Sensible (also longtime members on keyboards Monty Oxymoron, bassist Stu West and drummer Pinch) came to entertain and that they did.


Early in the set my wife looked at me and said “Is Vanian’s arm in a sling?!” I squinted and looked and by golly it was (a fall on stage in Sacramento a few days earlier) but it didn’t stop the long-running Dracula from bouncing all over the stage, ever-present shades on and having a beard.

They went from opener ‘Melody Lee” into “Generals” into “Disco Man” (which Captain Sensible pointed out an audience member and called him that…”You sir are …disco man!”) into “I Just Can’t Be Happy Today” and onward.

While Vanian was dressed like Lon Chancey (or Boris Karlof) The Captain had his usual bright, fiery pants on, white sunglasses and red beret that I’m convinced never comes off of his head. Monty’s crazy ‘fro swing with every glide and tinkle of his keyboard. After all these years the band still seems like they’re having a blast on stage and the audience feeds off it as well.

After those first 4 cuts they launched into a few memorable covers including “The Last Time” (the Stones classic that seemed impromptu) and Love’s “Alone Again Or” (which was on their Anything album).  They also pulled out vintage Damned originals like “Love Song,” “Machine Gun Etiquette” and “Ignite” and ended the set with a rousing rendition of “Neat Neat Neat.”

The sold out (or close to it) venue was not going to let these guys get off that easy  and they came out for not one but two encores. During the first one we heard “Noise Noise Noise’ and “Smash It Up” while in encore number two they pulled out “Nasty,” “Fan Club” and ended it all with crowd-favorite “Anti Pope” and called it an evening.

These guys may not be doing this forever (forty years for godsakes) so if they come to your town forget groceries that week and buy a Damned ticket. You won’t regret it (and may even lose a few pounds!).