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