The Brook, Southampton

The Damned

The start of Summer (judging by today’s weather) heralds the first big show of June at The Brook. Punk royalty are in town, namely The Damned. As the numbers slowly wander in local support act Black Kat Boppers, one by one take to the stage. With a moniker like that one can already guess the genre, while they waste no time in announcing themselves. Almost from the outset Roy (vox) is grinning from ear to ear. He has a knowing smile and an aura around him of huge confidence. Straight away I’m thinking Rockabilly, but they are so much more than that. Jon (guitars/harmonica/vox) is head down in concentration most of the set, yet his picking is note perfect. I have to say I don’t detect any cover versions so one assumes their output is all original. Stand-up drummer Colin is energetic throughout with some big finishes to most of the songs, while Dylan (stand-up bass/vox) happily plucks away to his right in confident manner. Occasionally Roy struts his stuff on what little space has been afforded him at the front of the stage. However, it’s that grin that you just cant help noticing-the man has huge confidence and a bellowing vocal to match. This near full room reward them with great applause after a 30 minute set, while they take the plaudits and direct us to their merch’ stall. An entertaining start to what will prove to be a great evening of music.

Black Kat Boppers
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With a now full Brook The Damned take to the stage one by one. Last on is Vanian, resplendent in a black hat and coat combo and white scarf. From the outset the ‘Captain’ is in jovial mood. They open brilliantly with “Disco Man”, swiftly followed by “Love Song” – getting us onside early. Straight away there is movement near the front. The heat has clearly got to Vanian as he strips down to a more comfortable T-shirt. It’s only now we see him quite energetic as he patrols the stage. “Sensible” is in fine form, bantering between songs despite shouts for the classics. Those classics follow with “I Just Cant Be Happy Today” as we sing in unison. One or two of the songs really test Dave’s vocal but largely he is in good voice this evening. “Plan 9” and “Blackout” stay with the classics while “History of The World” sounds better than ever.

The Damned
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The Captain decides it’s time for a rant about smoking and how he wishes to go for a smoke midset. He then announces “Ignite” as the next song. The favourites come and go but when they play “Eloise” I have to say it’s not the “neatest” version they’ve ever played. In fact (for this reviewer), this was probably the only weak point in the entire set. Before playing “Alone Again Or” Dave pays homage to the 60’s “Punk” bands who inspired and influenced him/them-MC5, Love, et all – I have to say this version is as close to the original as they could possibly get. “Antipope” swiftly follows before a riotous explosion of energy sweeps the room during the opening drumbeat of “New Rose”. The crowd reaction is quite simply wild! The pit becomes a seething mass of middle-aged bodies going crazy! The band give it plenty of gusto too and before we’ve caught our respective breaths they end on “Neat Neat Neat”.

Before they return an “older” member of their crew “does a turn” and briefly tries to steal the limelight! He is promptly booed and heckled before encouraging our shouts for an encore! The band return with the rather apt ‘Fan Club’ before an energetic “I Feel Alright”. As we come to the last song of the set the Captain praises the Brook as a venue before they leave us on “Smash It Up” (Parts 1 and 2).

With their 40th Anniversary just around the corner they seem in no mood to throw in the towel just yet. In fact on tonight’s evidence they are as tight as they ever were. Immaculately attired, they’re a band who have payed their dues. Always gracious to an audience who keep returning, The Damned will rightly take their headline slot at Rebellion in August.

The Damned Set List
Disco Man
Love Song
2nd Time Around
I Just Can’t Be Happy Today
Plan 9, Channel 7
Lively Arts
Silly Kids Games
The History of The World
13 Floor Vendetta
Stranger on The Town
Eloise (Barry Ryan cover)
Alone Again Or (Love cover)
New Rose
Neat Neat Neat

Fan Club
I Feel Alright
Smash It Up (Parts 1 and 2)


Review by Ross A. Ferrone
Pictures by Rob Whetton.

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