Damned Damned Damned by Kris Needs
Damned Damned Damned by Kris Needs
100 Club - 6th July 1006 - Rat Scabies and Brian James play "Damned, Damned, Damned"
'Don't play anything released after July 1976' - was the brief - as I rifled through the old vinyl in preparation for what promised to be an interesting pogo down memory lane. The 100 Club might have had a CD player - but those weren't invented in 1976 - and if it's strict to the point of being £19.76 to get in - then bollocks to those silly little discs, anyway.
trakMARX had everything to do with this gig happening - and laid out dosh on the special souvenir fanzine (now selling for silly money on Ebay, I hasten to add! – Ed). I played for nothing too - but in truth – it was all a bit of an honour. The set-list restrictions weren't a pain at all. Of course I played the Dolls, MC5, Stooges, etc - but could also get away with Mott's 'The Moon Upstairs', Vince Taylor's 'Brand New Cadillac' and - for Lydon fans - Peter Hammill's proto-punk: 'Nobody's Business'.
Talking of Lydon, the opening ‘act’ were the Sex Pistols Experience. A tribute band, doing impersonations - with a 'Sid' sneering - and a singer doing his best approximation of the sardonic Rottenesque stage manner. Not a good choice, in my book (blame Rat, it was his idea – Ed) The evening was getting under way with something you couldn't take seriously – something that ultimately came accross like a punk putdown on some naff comedy show. No wonder Alan Parker’s a big fan! Maybe my problem was that I'd seen the Pistols too many times back in the day. It’s kind of sacrosanct to me. None of that ‘after the fact’ crap for this soldier.
TV Smith was another matter entirely. I hadn't seen him for about 28 years - when my Vice Creems supported the Adverts at Friars, Aylesbury. Alone with just his trusty acoustic guitar - he's still got the fire, spirit and delivery of four people! Playing new stuff - and then surging into a string of classics: 'Gary Gilmore's Eyes', 'Bored Teenagers' and the rest - Tim brought tears to many eyes - and captivated those who hadn't seen him before. There was a lovely rise in enthusiasm being thrown at the stage as Tim's set progressed - and he threw it right back. There was Phil Alexander - editor of Mojo - leading the mosh-pit in tribute to this still-crackling talent. And there was Gaye Advert - radiant as ever - cheering her long-time partner on.
Now it was time to stoke them up for the headliner. 'Kick Out The Jams' seemed most suitable. Then they staggered on. I saw the Damned the first time around - starting after their 100 Club debut through the latter half of '76 - at little gaffs like High Wycombe's Nag's Head and Leighton Buzzard's Leisure Centre. Above all, they were a laugh. That was the first impression you got - which wasn’t surprising - with the custard pie shots and all that. We had them in Zigzag relating lurid stories from their first US tour. I got some stick for the one about the groupie and the bass guitar neck.
But underneath the panto exterior was something of a musical powerhouse - especially emanating from the drummer and guitarist. Rat was punk's Keith Moon in terms of kit-demolishing dexterity. Chops, power - and mania – all rolled into one. Brian was the living reincarnation of James Williamson - the string-shredding axe commando of “Raw Power”. He had energy, speed and attitude. Their first single steamed in on the riff from the Dolls' 'Jet Boy'.
Those were the two who provided the sonic surge which gave them the high-energy thumbs up. And they were gonna be playing tonight. Not only that, handling the bass would be Mani - once a Stone Rose - now in Primal Scream. It was the injection of Mani which elevated the Scream into 'Xtrmntr' mode. The man's a bass-a-tronic killing machine. Two days Rehearsal - and he was in - right in the middle of his group's festival tour too. The difficult role of Dave Vanian went to Amen's Casey Chaos, who wisely chose not to don vampire gear and simply roared like Satan's pitchfork was lodged 'twixt his buttocks.
It was deafening, brutal, energized - with the songs mercilessly brief: most of the first album -and that cover they always used to do of the Stooges' '1970'. The effect was akin to an avalanche of guitar, bass, drums and shouting. There was chaos in front of the stage. Phil Mojo dragged my missus off to the mosh-pit and she came back smiling, covered in beer. There were a lot of smiles all round. It wasn't subtle - it was full-tilt - skin-of-the-teeth. But they didn't let the name down at all.
This was no pantomime - like the opening act. It was indeed the spirit of the Damned circa '76 - which meant: ‘high-energy onslaught’! Amidst all the bland shit around today – this was real Punk Rock.
Nothing's changed there - on both counts.
Now for Eater on the 28th Sept. See you there.
Kris Needs – tMx 26 – 09/06
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