The Damned were one of the original British punk bands, known for several firsts within the genre – notably, the first to release a single (1976’s “New Rose”) and the first to release a full-length album (1977’s Damned Damned Damned). While most of their contemporaries disappeared into the annals of music history years ago, The Damned have continued on – breaking up and reforming several times over the years, with members coming and going, and with numerous changes in style (going from punk, to goth, to pop, to an amalgamation of all of them), but in the end still going strong. The band marks their 40th anniversary this year, which they chose to celebrate by going on an extensive world tour including a stop in Baltimore at the Batltimore Soundstage.
The show very nearly didn’t happen at all. A week earlier, guitarist Captian Sensible fell off of the stage, breaking a rib in the process. Several of the shows in between had to be postponed, but the Baltimore show happened on schedule. Of course Sensible’s injuries made it difficult if not impossible for him to stand and play for an hour and a half long set. So in the spirit of his own sense of humor, the band got him a “throne” to sit on while playing – a toilet mounted onto a cart. Sensible perched there throughout the show, and while he appeared to still be in a great deal of discomfort while getting on and of of the stage, while performing his focus was so deep, his playing so strong, and he seemed to be in great humor, so much so that an outside observer would likely not even be able to tell that there was anything wrong.
For this 40th anniversary show, the band drew from all through their extensive catalog, focusing on their releases from the late 70s and the 80s. The band opened with “Melody Lee” from 1979’s Machine Gun Etiquette and then jumped to 1982’s Strawberries for “Generals” and 1981’s Friday the 13th EP for “Disco Man.” The set continued from there touching on 1980’s The Black Album (“Wait for the Blackout”, “History of the World Part 1”), 1985’s Phanstasmagoria (“Street of Dreams”), 1986’s Anything (a cover of Love’s “Alone Again Or”), and of course, the album that started it all, Damned Damned Damned (“Neat Neat Neat, “New Rose”). The band played two encores, including more such diverse tracks from throughout their carrer as the gothy “13th Floor Vendetta” to the punk of “Noise Noise Noise,” “Smash It Up,” and “Nasty.”
Yet despite celebrating their 40th anniversary with a look backward, The Damned are not a band to rest on nostalgia. They are playing some of their strongest shows ever, and they’re showing no sign of slowing down. After completing this round of extensive touring, they plan to return to the studio to work on a new album.
Riverside, California’s rock and soul band The BellRays opened the show, along with Baltimore locals Ravagers.