The Damned – The Powerstation January 25, 2012

The Damned’s show at The Powerstation was something of a mixed bag. Rather than the straight-up punk sounds of their first album, the band, featuring original members Dave Vanian (vocals) and Captain Sensible (guitar) dabbled in Goth, psychedelia and pure pop. That’s to be expected as the band has a richer musical history than would have been indicate by their first two singles, New Rose and Neat Neat Neat. But the feeling I got from the crowd was that they came to hear more punk and less rock. The energy level definitely rose when they did play the two early singles…surprisingly early in the set. Post-punk “hits” like Love Song, I Just Can’t Be Happy Today, Smash It Up and Eloise filled out the 90-minute set.

The crowd provided one punk rock moment when a member of the audience threw something in Captain Sensible’s direction early in the proceedings. After a second shot, the Captain was not amused and he retreated with his troops to the dressing room, threatening to end the show unless the offending fan was ejected. It all went down a bit comically, the audience member ‘fessed up and the show resumed.

The flamboyant guitarist was the focus of the show, with singer Dave Vanian seemingly happy to play second fiddle. I think the show would have been more satisfying if Vanian had more charisma. Frizzy-headed keyboard player Monty Oxy Moron did his part…his arms waving, his head bobbing.

In the end, it was good fun. The energy and sense of danger of an authentic 1970s punk gig didn’t quite materialize, but I guess that’s to be expected. It’s was still a treat to see the guys having a bash, even if they didn’t smash it up.

Veteran New Zealand guitar legend Doug Jerebine opened the show, accompanied by drummer Tony Hopkins. Some punk fans arriving early were a bit confused, wondering who the old hippie was on stage, but I’ll bet Captain Sensible, who is a big fan of psychedelia, enjoyed the set.

Marty Duda

photo courtesy Kira Duda