Dave Vanian Struts!
KOKO London 16th February 2018
(Photo: Ramona Andrews)
Well, we have been very tardy this year what with this being the first name band gig we have seen in 2018!
Early on in this 'Evil Spirits' tour I had read some disparaging comments about the bands' performance which surprised me as here for the first time since the mid-'90's three quarters of one of The Damned's classic line ups were back. I say one of the classic line ups as I see The Damned as two bands almost, the Brian James line up and the post-James incarnations of the band. Don't get me wrong I love them both but they are very different animals. 'Damned Damned Damned' is one of the albums that defined punk and well deserves its place as a classic album. There is however as you know that other side of the band represented no better than by the 'Holy Trinity' of Damned albums that are 'Machine Gun Etiquette', 'The Black Album' and 'Strawberries'. As it just so happens that Paul Gray performed bass duties on two of those, that for me makes the Scabies/Vanian/Sensible/Gray team the other classic line up and my personal favourite.
Anyhow I am waffling now, the point is Paul and his Rickenbacker were back and the potential was there for a cracking gig and that is precisely what we got. It was billed as an early gig as there was a club night afterwards. Apparently The Damned were not best pleased with this arrangement but for those travelling from outside of London I have to say such early stage times suit very nicely! So Holst's 'Mars' heralded the band on stage at 7.50 sharp. The Captain was suffering with a serious cold.... but like most men he didn't make a big thing about it!! I think for serious fans of The Damned a set heavy in material from 'The Black Album' and 'Strawberries' was at the top of the wish list and this is what we got. If not quite 'Fifty Shades of Gray' what we got was almost half of the set picked from this period. The opening salvo of 'Wait for the Blackout'. 'Lively Arts' and 'Silly Kids Games' set the tone for the evening. Highlights from the night were the aforementioned 'Lively Arts', 'Gun Fury', 'Dozen Girls' and 'Street Of Dreams'. On this occasion we took our daughter Ramona with us and she dragged us right to the front. Aside from running the risk of catching Sensible's cold from the stage, from this vantage point it was easy to see the joy that Captain and Paul have to be playing together again..... brilliant chemistry!
(Photo: Ramona Andrews)
After the last notes of 'Jet Boy Jet Girl' spat from the PA, the house lights came up and we prepared to negotiate our exist from KOKO.... lots of steps. I pulled Ramona up when I spied the familiar figure of Leigh Heggarty at the bar. Going over with Mo in tow to congratulate him on a very successful trip down under as Stranglers support I spotted an equally familiar figure leaning against the bar..... one Marco Pirroni. Now Ramona is a big Adam and the Ants fan so she was thrilled to meet him briefly, and even more so when he identified Klaus Nomi on her DIY boiler suit creation!
Ramona meets 'A Man Called Marco'
This started half an hour of Ramona playing punk top trumps. Having met Gaye Advert in the pub before the gig and then Marco, she set of in pursuit of Steve Diggle following a tip of from Leigh that he was in the vicinity. On this occasion the Buzzcock gave her the slip...... but she did manage to collar The Members' J.C. Carroll outside the venue!
For those seeing them at The Forum tonight..... enjoy!