Concert Review

Punk legends The Damned “smash it up” at Glasgow’s O2 Academy

The Damned – O2 Academy Glasgow 8th April 2023

Photo Credit Kevin Kerr

46 years after releasing their ground-breaking debut, Damned Damned Damned, Punk pioneers The Damned return with DARKADELIC, their first studio album since 2018’s UK Top 10 Evil Spirits.

Opening the night were Birmingham’s post-punk rockers The Nightingales. Formed in 1979, out of the ashes of Birmingham’s punk group The Prefects. Delivering a very different approach to songwriting, which was captured incidentally in the documentary King Rocker. The Nightingales deliver a no-nonsense punk gig, with no gaps, just ripping through their set and providing a brilliant opener for the veterans who were due to take the stage.

There was a real buzz of anticipation in Glasgow’s O2, the crowd was a varied bunch, from seasoned punk masters who had witnessed The Damned numerous times across their career, to “newbies” catching them for the very first time. There was no doubt everyone in the packed house was up for the gig.

The lights dim, the band’s intro music, The Man with The Golden Arm starts to play out and a wave of noise emanates from the eager crowd.  Captain Sensible is first to the front of the stage, dressed in his signature clothing, red beret, and mouthing expletives to the welcoming audience. It is not long before he is joined by the rest of the crew, and they rip into Street of Dreams from the 1985 classic album Phantasmagoria. Wasting no time, they immediately dive into the recent single, The Invisible Man

It’s impossible to understand where they found the fountain of youth, however, the band is clearly back at strong as ever. Where others at this stage in their career might be releasing a “Best of” album, The Damned are still pushing forward releasing fresh, new, exciting material.

Dave Vanian, a Goth pioneer, is all over the stage. Dressed to impress in a three-piece suit, tie, gloves, fedora, and shades. Still maintaining that air of eerie mystery, he is still vocally strong as ever belting it out, much to the delight of the Glasgow crowd.

Bravely, the band takes us through the new album “DARKADELIC“, it might have been a risky strategy with a crowd eager to hear the classics, however, the new material stands up for itself and easily takes its place amongst the band’s back catalogue.

Photo Credit Kevin Kerr

The Captain jokes, “Don’t worry, this is the last one” and the band then tears into older material. By now the O2 crew is definitely up for it. Until now there has been little crowd interaction, however, Vanian takes time to remind us of the Captain’s real name and Scottish connection, however Sensible notes the Burn’s tartan “looks pretty shit”

Stepping up a gear, we are treated to Born to Kill, Love Song, Second Time Around, Standing On The Edge of Tomorrow. Sensible’s guitar playing is still top form, he has his classic Gibson SG singing and screaming to the rafters paired with Paul Gray’s thundering bass blasting through Neat, Neat Neat, the band takes a bow and leave the stage to raucous applause. 

Not unexpectedly, they are back a few moments later with the wonderful Eloise and the crowd are lapping it up once again. Smash it up brings the whole crowd to its feet and fans of all ages are bouncing along.

Keeping one last new song, Girl I’ll Stop It Nothing for the second encore, Vanian then teases the Glasgow crowd with “is she?” ….”is she” Before exploding into New Rose, the mosh pit goes wild, and we are taken back to a different time.

Berets off to you guys, you nailed it.

Photo Credit : Kevin Kerr

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Kevin Kerr

Ayrshire photographer a with passion for Live Music, Performance and Events
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