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  • Writer's pictureHolly

More live at the......

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.

The Damned

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.

The Damned on stage at the Royal Albert Hall in 2016

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.

The Damned on stage at the Royal Albert Hall in 2016 with red smoke billowing

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.

Captain Sensible and Dave Vanian perform on stage for the Damned at the Royal Albert Hall in 2016

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.

a saltire hangs from the balcony as The Damned play on stage at the Royal Albert Hall in 2016

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.

Lock-in Live

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.

Piece of paper detailing itinery for Lock-In Live in London

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).

A veranda area where people could eat and drink between performances

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.

Inside the venue with the audience waiting for the next band to appear

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 go wild for Enter Shikari

The crowd are bouncing

A fan sticks out his studded tongue in joy

A fan sticks out his studded tongue in delight

Rou Reynolds reaches into the crowd

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.

The interior of the lounge where band members waited

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 about to be interviewed

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

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.

Notice on the toilet door prohibiting the taking of drugs

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 stands on stage for his souncheck

Dave Vanian on stage for the souncheck

Captain Sensible during the soundcheck with a selection of guitars

Captain Sensible prepares for his souncheck with a selection of guitars

A guy walks past as The Damed perform their soundcheck

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.

Captain Sensible on stage in London

Bass guitarist for the Damned

A member of the audience strives to be seen

A member of the audience strives to be seen by Captain Sensible

Close-up of Dave Vanian on stage in London

Dave Vanian and Captain Sensible giving it laldy

Dave Vanian and Captain Sensible giving it laldy

Close-up of Captain Sensible on stage in London

Captain Sensible and Dave Vanian meet the audience

The gig comes to an end

aptain Sensible and Dave Vanian shake hands with members of the audience in London

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.

All the best


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