The Damned at O2 Guildhall, Southampton 18.4.2023 with The Nightingales supporting

After the original line up Damned gigs last year (Damned – live in Hammersmith blog) this Spring tour is back to normality and promoting the new Damned album Darkadelic, which is released on 28 April. Unfortunate that the release date is after the gig, especially as it turns out to be a set heavy with the new material.

Preez bar – opposite The Guildhall

I’m with an old school friend tonight, who I used to go to gigs with regularly back around 1980 in London. We lost touch after I left home and he’s recently moved down Dorset way and this is our first gig together for about 42 years. We start with a beer in a bar I haven’t tried before: Preez, opposite the Guildhall on the edge of the square.

I rock up to the bar and admire a framed photo of Captain Sensible taken in the early 80s in Glasgow. “He’s just over there,” says the barman. It’s 7.30pm and The Captain is sat chatting to the photographer and her friends. She has some Damned photos displayed and postcard sets for sale. Just eight of us in here which is odd given the time but I’ll come again. I can linger for a chat with my mate safe in the knowledge The Damned aren’t on stage yet.

We pop over – I say pop over but my knee is heavily strapped – to the Guildhall. I lead us to the barrier at the side of the mixing desk – essential leaning place required for my knackered leg. (Notes on the venue in my Guildhall blog.) Also there is the hope that the sound near the mix desk might hold up – this high box of a room continues to be a challenge for sound engineers and unfortunately tonight they’re going to be losers again.

O2 Guildhall Southampton

The Nightingales are on when we get in. I saw them in a pub in Birmingham about 40 years ago – they lived near me in Balsall Heath back then when we all wore dead men’s big coats and old jackets. The documentary film King Rocker, featuring singer/songwriter Robert Lloyd sparked some interest in seeing them again but the wayward sound and lack of familiarity with their work isn’t rekindling anything.

Robert Lloyd – The Nightingales
Robert Lloyd sings to his cabbage

There seems plenty of room still when The Damned come on, Dave Vanian hanging back until the first song starts up. Two new album tracks to start. The sound is pretty awful and I remember why I dodged this venue for several years. Just so much echo off the high walls and ceiling.

Dave Vanian

Two from The Black Album lift my mood: Wait for the Blackout and Lively Arts. My favourite Damned album with the extended classic, Curtain Call. Red and yellow swirls on the stage backdrop create interesting silloueettes. Then it’s back into the new album which no one has had a chance to hear yet. Why not tour after the release – give yourselves a better chance.

The Damned – O2 Guildhall

Vanian is ghoulishly lit in his black hat. Always stylish. He wanders all over the stage and off it, behind the drummer and whipping his mic cable out of his way as he goes.

Prince of darkness, Dave Vanian

The Captain is in his naughty Dennis the Menace jumper. “Thank you for coming out Southampton and the neighbouring towns, including those beginning with P,” as he acknowledges the Saints/Pompey rivalry. He adds a red nose on for the new single Beware of the Clown which has some familiarity.

The Captain

All these new songs are testing patience – near enough a whole album’s worth. The crowd are hanging on in there but without much enthusiasm. “That’s the last of the new songs” announces Captain Sensible. Relief, then 100mph versions of Love Song and Machine Gun Etiquette – sound creaking.

Dave Vanian

To my surprise, one of the better songs is Standing on the Edge of Tommorrow, from the last album Evil Spirits. Neat Neat Neat at top speed again to round off the set.

Paul Gray on bass
Monty Oxymoron on keyboards

The first encore is the classic cover Eloise. To finish, the bankers, the fans favourites Smash it Up (Part 2 caught on my zoom camera and here on my YouTube channel) and yes, of course, New Rose. It must be hard for them not to play New Rose. It’s a brilliant song – the best punk song? When that drumming starts, it sounds so fresh and live every time, even on record. Those last two songs save the day but I would love a sound engineer to talk me through the battle with this room tonight.

The Damned in Southampton

Just a few weeks ago The Lords of the New Church finished their set at the Vive Le Rock Awards with New Rose. Damned original Rat Scabies joined them on drums for that and we bumped into him in the bar afterwards – me coincidentally sporting his 1977 face on my t-shirt.

A grey-haired gig goer with Rat Scabies at The Vive Le Rock Awards

Published by ivaninblack

Still wild about live music - bands - gigs - festivals - after 42 years at it. All photos have been snapped by me or I will point out otherwise - I'll even own up to any blurry mobile phone ones. If gigaholic is a phrase then in recent years I think I've become one.

Leave a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: