Sunday, November 9, 2014

The Damned @ The Stone Pony, Asbury Park, NJ 11/01/14

Whenever you go to see one of your legendary heroes in concert, late in their career, you always hope that they don't suck.

Fortunately, they didn't.

You always hope that what you hold dear to you isn't compromised.  It's a calculated risk.  I thought about not seeing The Damned.  But then I weighed it all out.  They were only doing a six stop east coast tour.  They were playing the legendary Stone Pony in Asbury Park, NJ.  The opening band would be the seminal LA Hardcore outfit T.S.O.L.  This also may be my last opportunity to see them with two original members, Captain Sensible on guitar and Dave Vanian on vocals.  That pretty much sealed the deal.

It was 37 years previously that The Damned released the first British punk LP, Damned Damned Damned.  Released on Stiff Records and produced by Nick Lowe it beat Never Mind The Bullocks it's The Sex Pistols by 8 months.  I believe it was Vivian Westwood that said while referring to The Damned, "Always the first, always the worst".  Although very funny, not very true.  Damned Damned Damned is a great Rock 'n' Roll record.  Perhaps it is punk by attitude but the music is rock.  They were the first to release a punk 45 as well.


The band has been on again off again since 1977.  They went from Punk to Goth.  And they were quite good at both.  Despite numerous personnel changes their current lineup has been together for 10 years. It was promising to be a tight show and I couldn't have been more excited.

The night of the show I was surprised to learn that The Briefs would also be playing.  Sadly, I didn't realize it and missed them.  I walked in to T.S.O.L. playing.

It was actually quote odd to see front man Jack Grisham in a suit coat and not a skirt.  T.S.O.L. is another band that has been around in some shape or form since 1978.  The original lineup got back together in the late 90's and they have experimented with just about every genre you can think of.  They played a solid set of music throughout their career including World War III and Superficial Love from their debut EP.

Jack was hysterical on the mic in between songs telling the story of a girl that came to see them two nights in a row but with different guys and he accidentally gave it away.  They also tried a song that their new drummer did not know and afterwards Jack told us it was done absolutely correct!

After the set we all waited for the Damned.  The stage seemed to be set but nothing.  It was 10:00 at this point.  The crowd started to move and I looked to my left and it was Captain Sensible making his way through the crowd to get on stage.

He chatted to the crowd while the rest of the band set up throwing jabs at The Sex Pistols and The Jam.  When the band was set the launched into their set that was full of tracks from Machine Gun Etiquette and The Black Album. 

Dave Vanian looked better than photos I had seen.  And he sounded great.  The whole band sounded great.  I was a little surprised that their set lacked their Goth stage considering that they were important to that movement. 

It is important to remember that Captain Sensible was originally the bass player.  He helmed guitar duties after Brian James left and went on to other things like Lords of the New Church with Stiv Bators.

They played a great set teasing us with early favorites like 'Fan Club'.  They know what we all wanted.  We wanted the songs that brought The Damned to us.  They made us wait until the end but the finally hit us with 'New Rose' and 'Neat Neat Neat'.

The energy was incredible.  The place exploded.  Mosh pits erupted.  It was spectacular.

And that was it.  It was over.  We knew there would be an encore.  But what would it be?  We heard what we came to hear.  What could possible top that?  When they hit the stage they hit us with 'Anti-Pope'.

For the Cherry on Top they finished with a cover of 'White Rabbit' and then bid us Farewell.

Captain Sensible took shots at the Sex Pistols, The Jam, Paul Weller, and The Clash.  He then said goodbye and that we would see all of us at the bar!

This was a perfect night.  In every possible aspect.  Sometimes it is always best to set no expectations and just to let the night take you where it will. It was magical.  Without a doubt, a night that I will never forget.  I still have a smile on my face when I think about it.

Captain Sensible tweeted me a couple times the next day in Captain Sensible Fashion.

Hahaha.  I could have easily have made the decision to not go to this show.  I am happy to know that I made the right decision.

See you at the next show!


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