I recently posted a blog about some of the gigs I had been to from teenager to adult (available here) but there were others which I'd left out. So in this second installment I'll write about some others where I'd managed to take some photos, whether with basic instamatics or more sophisticated DSLRs.
By now I had a decent Canon Powershot (a good beginners camera that does all the hard work) and for indoor photography it served me well. With great focus and sharp images it coped well with the lighting.
They come a close (by a hairsbreath) second to The Clash as my most favourite band, but technically they should be considered My Favourite Band since The Clash are no longer with us (though still in spirit).
I probably have more vinyl by The Damned than any other band yet when I first got the chance to see them, in 1986 (and I can't remember why it took so long) I was seriously disappointed. Eloise was riding high in the charts and they were probably at their peak commercially (you'll find some 'real' punks will snigger at this piece of punk pop but The Damned were obviously highly influenced by the sixties and given their age that probably isn't a surprise. Under their nom de plume Naz Nomad and the Nightmares, they produced a psychadelic spoof movie soundtrack containing an assortment of garage music. Eloise, in my opinion, is a fantastic piece of over the top pop magnified with an orchestral compliment).
They were playing at the Edinburgh Playhouse, the largest all seater theatre in the UK, and I had high expectations. To my disappointment it was akin to a kiddy show with go-go girls dancing in cages and Dave Vanian prancing around like a Smash Hits poster boy!
I lasted about twenty minutes (which might be generous) and walked out, letting it be known to the staff in the foyer just how shit I thought they were.
It didn't stop me buying their material but it took many years before I decided to watch them again. By the noughties I had been attending some of their gigs but there were two in particular than stood out from the crowd.
Royal Albert Hall
Celebrating their 40th Anniversary, this was the piece de resistance in a three hour extravaganza (with a short interval in the middle) that had them playing all their best known and popular work.
Being such a significant anniversary I did think there might be possible guest appearances from Rat Scabies and Brian James, but alas it was not to be. Still, it didn't diminish the quality of the performance.
They did request that the audience refrain from damaging the property as they would be liable, but the audience had matured and the old adage "if you wont do it in your home, don't do it here" had probably sunk in over the years. Anyway, energy levels weren't probably the same as 40 years earlier.
The crowd roared in delight and sang along to their favourites, Smash It Up and New Rose being amongst the obvious. Some Scottish fans had brought along a Saltire and hung it over the balcony which was a nice touch. After all it wasn't all about the Londoners.
It was a special night that had re-instilled my admiration for the band. Like The Clash, they had developed their music beyond 4 chord wonders and were always willing to diversify and try something different. That's why they're still a great band to see.
It's not often I am successful in lucky draws but in January 2017 I was picked to receive free entry to Lock-In Live at Camden Stables where The Damned would be playing. There would be a selection of bands playing half hour sets and filmed interviews inbetween. The audience would be herded outside between the performances then return for the next gig. The whole event would take a full day, starting from around 4pm.
Itinery for the event
A covered terraced area outside provided food and drink, while a smaller bar was available inside, but at £7 a pint the beer was expensive (especially being used to the £5 back home).
The veranda area for food and drinks
The Damned would be the headline act so there were three other bands to watch before they came on. Enter Shikari, who I'd never heard of but had a strong fanbase were one of the other bands along with Dead and Mallory Knox.
The venue was tiny, maybe holding three hundred, so it was very intimate but with a small audience there was space to move about.
The recording area for the gigs
Enter Shikari were the first to really get the audience jumping. Their set thundered along, Reynolds rasping into the microphone, goading their fans into a frenzy.
Lead singer Rou Reynolds of Enter Shikari
The crowd are bouncing
A fan sticks out his studded tongue in delight
Rou Reynolds reaches into the crowd
After Enter Shikari had completed their set, as with each turnaround, the audience were led out as they prepared for the interview with The Damned.
Now, as I had said, drinks were pricey, and not wanting to leave the venue with the rest, I had stayed around to watch the sound checks. I also had one eye on the lounge where the bands sat around waiting but there was always a doorman standing there.
Band members stand at the doorway of the lounge
Age takes it's toll on your bladder and after a few pints I was desperate for the bog and if I wanted to remain in the venue the only option was the toilets in the lounge. The advantage of age is that everyone thinks your supposed to be there. That maybe your a manager or someone senior (well I was definately senior because the average age was probably mid to late twenties). So with the venue empty apart from the bands and the film crew, I was left to my own devices to take photos and hang around.
It had come to the time for The Damed to be interviewed in another section of the venue. The room was packed with film crew, some fans, the band and the rest of the entourage including their tour manager.
The Damned prepare to be interviewed
Everyone put on their smiles and played their part. Dum questions were asked. Groupies coyly giggled as they took selfies with the band and the band went through the motions as they had grown accustomed to. The air was thick with pretension but everyone has a job to do. It's not a judgement, just an observation.
Captain Sensible raises two fingers like a true punk
With the interview over, the band moved on to begin their souncheck. Fans departed and the venue was empy in preparation for their performance. For me, it was time to get to the toilets. My bladder was at breaking point.
I looked over to the doorway of the lounge. The doorman was gone. Yes! Across, I went and straight through like I was part of the furniture. Some folk were sitting around chatting amongst themselves as I made a beeline for the toilets. All I could think was "thank fuck". Relief.
Warning on the door of the toilets. I hope the band heeded
Feeling human again, I headed back through to the venue where The Damned were in the process of their soundcheck, only to notice a draught machine serving Jager on tap. Fuckin' nice!
I walked up to the machine, picked up a plastic cup and filled it. Sure beats £7 a pint.
Off I went with cup in hand and watched the band go through their dry run,
Dave Vanian on stage for the souncheck
Captain Sensible prepares for his souncheck with a selection of guitars
Yeah mate, I shouldn't be here
I'd finished my Jager, which I thoroughly enjoyed, and headed back to the lounge. One more wouldn't do any harm, I thought. The band seemed focused on their soundcheck and I'd taken enough photos before the actual gig started. I returned to the lounge and poured myself another. Nice.
It was now time for the show to begin. The audience were brought back in, anticipation firmly hanging in the air.
A member of the audience strives to be seen by Captain Sensible
Dave Vanian and Captain Sensible giving it laldy
The gig comes to an end
A fan is ecstatic to shake hands with Dave Vanian
The Damned perform New Rose at Lock-in Live, Camden, London
The Damned perform Anti-Pope at Lock-in Live in Camden, London
You can find all the others by searching for 'The Damned lock-in live'
So that was it. A blistering set. Great photos and a couple of free drinks to boot. I headed back to the hotel I was staying at, stopping for a beer and a chance to check the photographs and the following day I was back home.
I don't care what anyone says, The Damned are good. Rarely do they disappoint and they're always great entertainment.
Don't leave it too late to see them.
More at www.hereandback.co.uk
All the best