LIVE: The Damned – Islington Academy, London
Tonight it’s Christmas. As this year of multiple ups and downs starts to wind down, my gig-going winds up to its highest peak. At the Islington Academy tonight, The Damned play a Christmas gig, the like of which hasn’t been seen since… well, last Christmas I imagine.
It’s heart-warming and typical Damned stuff – it’s fun, it’s raucous, it’s pretty drunk and, for the first time in a long time, it’s populated by rather a lot of teenagers. The vast majority, although proudly displaying t-shirts that hark back to the 70s, seem a tad embarrassed at the dancing of their mums and dads but (it simply has to be said) those mums and dads are dancing like no one’s watching. No one is watching, because The Damned are captivating us.
While Dave Vanian remains his usual whirling self, it’s still, as always, as ever, and as it ever will be, the very good and noble Captain Sensible that draws the eye, and the ear. He tells us that this is the last gig that this band will play… as a 39 year old band, because next year they’ll be 40, and the reality check hits us all. Was it really that long ago? Is she really going out with him? It appears the answer to these questions is a resounding ‘yes’.
As the encore draws us in, we go off script and UK Subs’ frontman Charlie Harper comes onstage to assist with a song about a turkey, and a rhino, in the house. No, really. It’s bloody pointless, complete slapstick, and absolutely perfect. It’s the complete counterpoint to the crashing finale of ‘Smash It Up’, and we’re told that when The Damned play the Albert Hall next year, the place isn’t likely to survive.
As the final notes fade to feedback, it leaves the Captain to bid us a Happy Christmas, a fond farewell, and ask us if we REALLY want to hear ‘Happy Talk’. Of course we do, and before the lights come up and we resign ourselves to the end of another brilliant night out, we get a single singalong verse and chorus. And now, now we’re ready to go home and dream of the next time we share such a night. Tonight was the perfect event, the perfect anticipation to another year drawing to a close, and the perfect preparation for seeing The Damned again next year. 40? Nah, that can’t be right. Maybe she isn’t going out with him after all.
View the whole gallery here.