The Damned in Austin by Amy Price

words & photos by Amy Price


Doing an extensive tour to celebrate their 40th (ok, 41st) year as a band is a rare occurrence - heck any band that makes it to even 20 years is kind of a curiosity these days. But The Damned are not in this to simply win new fans (though undoubtedly they will); the sold-out Mohawk show pulled in a crowd that ranged from the simply curious to the hardcore punk lifers who doubtless saw them first in the 1970's when they emerged from the London punk scene along with The Clash and The Sex Pistols. In that respect, they're the last band standing.  And completely to their credit, The Damned continue to push the envelope with a performance that's energetic, irreverent, full of attitude and surprisingly musical and well-played. This Practically Perfect Punk might even do Mary Poppins proud (who's to say she didn't have tattoos and piercings under that Victorian dress, right?). 

TheDamned 0033Dave Vanian remains the ageless ringleader of this collective. Now in his early 60's, he moves onstage like a person half his age (maybe those vampire rumors have a bit of truth to them after all). Stu West, Pinch and  keyboardist Monty Oxymoron (who's a hoot to watch!) provide able musical and visual support. The show however belongs to the onstage antics of Vanian and Captain Sensible, the guitarist who out-Grohled The Dave after breaking a rib a few weeks ago at their Toronto performance. Instead of a guitar 'throne' as Grohl used in the Foo Fighters' Broken Leg tour, the Captain opted for the sensible use of a throne of another kind:  a toilet properly decorated in spray paint and various insults.

And speaking of that broken rib, The Damned had to cancel the three shows scheduled after The Captain's injury. But rather than disappoint fans, they've worked with those venues to reschedule the dates once the tour ends. That's worth celebrating, as this tour has the feel of a long goodbye for a band that already infrequently tours in North America.