“It’s a lot better than the Sex Pistols!” So said guitarist Captain Sensible before leaving the stage after two encores on Saturday night. The Damned were one of the original UK punk bands, gaining fame along side The Clash and Sex Pistols in 1976. In fact they were the first of that era to release a punk single, “New Rose”, on Stiff Records.
In 2017 they are celebrating their 40th anniversary, lead by founding members Dave Vanian (vocals) and Captain Sensible (guitar). Vanian suffered a dislocated shoulder earlier in the tour, but that didn’t seem to slow him down. And Captain Sensible showed how far he’s come from 3-chord punk to accomplished lead guitarist. I spotted many musicians in the crowd representing Vancouver’s own early punk scene, heavily influenced by The Damned. Forty years on the band still had great stage presence, and the songs didn’t sound dated.
The opening band was Bleached, from Los Angeles. I’d heard great things about them, and I was very impressed by their mix of bubblegum pop and indie punk. I could hear influences from The Go Gos to The Ramones. It’s great to see The Damned choose a group of younger musicians, none of whom were even born when “New Rose” was released.