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The Damned with The Bellrays and Electric Frankenstein - The Fillmore New York at Irving Plaza (New York, NY) – Thursday, May 14, 2009

21 May 2009


Has been hijacked by DAMNED fanatics?

It sure looks it.

In Jack Rabid’s current Top 10 list we see a plug for the Damned’s latest album So, Who’s Paranoid as well as a reader comment by none other than CAPTAIN SENSIBLE, the group’s guitarist and one of my musical heroes.

After absorbing that list you can read a review of said album by yours truly.

If you’re still hankering for more on these English punk trailblazers you can read about their just completed northeast U.S. tour by checking out blogger Tim Bugbee’s review of the May 8 show in Boston. (Stunning photos Tim!)

Had enough?



Then check out blogger Matthew Berlyant’s review of the May 13 show in Philly.

But wait, there’s more (channeling my best Ginsu knife infomercial voice)!

I’ve seen the band several times since 1985 but have never been as impressed as I was tonight. The band, which relied mostly on its 1979 juggernaut Machine Gun Etiquette, sped through a bevy of high-energy gems that still sounded incredibly fresh three decades on. We also heard a handful of songs from the 1977 debut Damned Damned Damned.

The group played three tracks from their latest album, including “Dark Asteroid,” which was breathtaking. The song, which includes a long jam and is dedicated to SYD BARRETT, saw keyboardist MONTY OXYMORON step away from the keys to play drums on a nearby kit. PINCH, the regular drummer, stayed in his usual spot. The interplay between Monty and Pinch was precise yet sounded improvised. And Monty, who typically looks on stage as if he just drank 37 cans of Red Bull, was remarkably focused and serious, pouring everything he had into his drumming. With Monty away from the keyboards, singer DAVE VANIAN slid over and dazzled on the keys.

Who knew?

Another highlight was “Under the Wheels,” which is from the new album and arguably the group’s best song since 1982. Vanian’s singing was smooth and full and he kept the gorgeous melody front and center to a sold out or nearly sold out audience.

“Alone Again Or” by LOVE also was a treat and it was great to hear Sensible name check ARTHUR LEE, another musical hero of mine.

“Disco Man,” one of many brilliant non-LP songs that the group has, went over extremely well and the insistent “Ignite” showcased Sensible’s amazing guitar-work and Pinch’s dynamic drumming.

“Curtain Call” was as inspirational and personal as ever, even if we didn’t get to hear all 17 minutes and 13 seconds of it. And the anthemic “Smash It Up” ended the evening dare I say in a most smashing manner.


Love Song
Second Time Around
New Rose
Under the Wheels
Alone Again Or
Disco Man
I Fall
Dr Woofenstein
Melody Lee
Neat Neat Neat
Dark Asteroid
Curtain Call
Stretcher Case
Noise Noise Noise
Jet Boy, Jet Girl
Smash it Up

Faults? Monty’s keyboards were mixed too low, which was a shame as his playing adds an important dimension to the band’s sound, especially on slower tunes.

But my main beef is that the show was too skewed toward the 1977 to 1979 era. Granted, that period was a fertile one and fans will always want to hear the old chestnuts.

But it’s a shame that Grave Disorder and Phantasmagoria were entirely ignored and that only one song from The Black Album (“Curtain Call”) and one song from Strawberries (“Ignite”) made it.

That said, Damned fans have very little to complain about. I mean, who would’ve thought that the group would be touring 33 years on in support of an extremely well received new album? Not me.

May they keep going strong and here’s hoping they return stateside sooner than later.

I missed THE BELLRAYS and ELECTRIC FRANKENSTEIN but Tim and Matthew both wrote about them. Tim also has terrific shots of both bands in his review.