The Damned + The Hard Ons, Northcote Theatre, Friday 22nd March 2024 - Noise11.com
The Damned at Northcote Theatre, Melbourne 22 March 2024 photo by Mary Boukouvalis

The Damned at Northcote Theatre, Melbourne 22 March 2024 photo by Mary Boukouvalis

The Damned + The Hard Ons, Northcote Theatre, Friday 22nd March 2024

by Anna-Maria Megalogenis on March 25, 2024

in News

The Damned released the first ever UK punk single, “New Rose” off album Damned, Damned, Damned, in 1976, and were often overshadowed by their English punk counterparts. Now in their late sixties and still touring world-wide, featuring the original line up of Dave Vanian, Captain Sensible, Rat Scabies and Paul Gray, they are the ones having the last laugh and have left their old rivals for dead, in certain respects, quite literally!

Old and new punks, goths, and fans of every vintage packed the confines of Northcote Theatre eager to see the original UK punk stalwarts. The Hard Ons were hand-picked by The Damned to support them on their Australian tour. A fitting choice given that the Hard Ons cite The Damned as one of their influences. Peter “Blackie” Black on lead guitar, Ray Ahn on bass, Murray Ruse on drums and Tim Rogers on lead vocals put on a frenetic, stellar performance. Blackie and Ahn’s hair flailing about in unison, whilst thrashing their guitars, Ruse’s machine gun drumming keeping the pace and newer addition Rogers, clad in silver pants, moving his hips, caressing the mike and hamming it up. “We’re very happy to warm you up for the Damned” quips Blackie. Catching the last few songs of their set “Sunny”, “Copping Black” and “She’s a Dish” the Hard Ons packed a punch, heightening the anticipation of the throng.

As the lights dim, each member of The Damned takes their spots on the stage; Monty Oxymoron on keys (who joined in 1996), Rat Scabies on drums (behind Perspex), Paul Gray on bass, Captain Sensible on lead guitar, sporting his trademark red beret and white rimmed sunglasses, along with a shirt emblazoned with the words, neat, neat, neat, and last to make an entrance is lead vocalist Dave Vanian, clad in a black pinstriped three piece suit, with fedora hat and sunglasses, the dark, gothic foil to Sensible’s comical bright attire.

“Ignite” off album Strawberries replete with fast paced guitar riffs, sets the pace for the night and the energy doesn’t abate. “Were gonna have some fun tonight” sings Vanian, and the punters unanimously agree.

The hits follow in quick succession, “The Generals”, “Strangers on the Town” and “Life Goes on” (featuring lead vocals by Sensible) from album Strawberries. The wonderful Barry Ryan cover “Eloise” was one of many highlights throughout the hit-laden set, and the fact that it was noticeably absent from their 1997 Melbourne set list, made it all the sweeter. The energy of the band was palpable; Captain Sensible with his between song banter, and tongue in cheek humour, and Vanian with his stage moves, twirls and antics, crooning whilst holding his vintage chrome microphone.

“Neat, Neat Neat” and “Smash it Up” are crowd favourites and Encores “Curtain Call”, punk classic “New Rose” and the MC5 Cover “Looking at You” are performed with aplomb and lapped up by the crowd. The Damned put on a fine performance worthy of accolades and are as still relevant now as they were in their heyday.

Setlist
1. Ignite (from Strawberries, 1982)
2. Wait for the Blackout (from The Black Album, 1980)
3. The History of the World (Part 1) (from The Black Album, 1980)
4. Gun Fury (of Riot Force) (from Strawberries, 1982)
5. Melody Lee (from Machine Gun Etiquette, 1979)
6. Generals (from Strawberries, 1982)
7. Stranger on the Town (from Strawberries, 1982)
8. Plan 9 Channel 7 (from Machine Gun Etiquette, 1979)
9. Dr Jeckyl and Mr Hyde (from The Black Album, 1980)
10. Life Goes On (from Strawberries, 1982)
11. Beware of the Clown (from Darkadelic, 2023)
12. Eloise (Barry Ryan Cover)
13. Shadow of Love (from Phantasmagoria,1985)
14. Dozen Girls (from Strawberries, 1982)
15. Fan Club (from Damned, Damned, Damned, 1977)
16. The Invisible Man (from Darkadelic, 2023)
17. Noise Noise Noise (from Machine Gun Etiquette, 1979)
18. Love Song (from Machine Gun Etiquette, 1979)
19. Machine Gun Etiquette (from Machine Gun Etiquette, 1979)
20. Neat Neat Neat (from Damned, Damned, Damned, 1977)
21. Smash It Up (from Machine Gun Etiquette, 1979)

Encore 1
22. Curtain Call (from The Black Album, 1980)
23. New Rose (from Damned, Damned, Damned, 1977)

Encore 2
24. Looking at You (MC5 Cover) (from Machine Gun Etiquette, 1979)

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