The Damned 70s gigs
The Damned, like much of punk rock, were a breath of fresh air when they exploded on to the late 70s music scene. Unlike the Pistols, and to some extent The Clash, The Damned were played up and down the country all of the time. I saw them lots and lots of times in the late 70s at Redcar, Middlesbrough Rock Garden, Newcastle Poly and later at gigs at Newcastle City Hall and Mayfair. I first saw The Damned supporting The Flaming Groovies at Redcar Coatham Bowl in 1976. This was at the time of New Rose, and I remember we went into the gig early especially to see The Damned. I recall that, for some reason, Dave Vanium wasn’t wearing his usual gothic styled make up and clothing and appeared wearing a leather jacket and no make up. The Captain was just mad, Brain James was the guitar hero, and Rat was going crazy on the drums. Their set included New Rose, their manic version of the Beatles’ Help and some embryonic versions of songs which would feature on their first album, which came out the following year. I then saw them at a shambolic gig at Newcastle Poly; there was lots of glasses flying, much edginess, fights and the set was cut short as a result. Marie and I talked to The Captain in the bar; he held court to a few of us, telling us how he was an Abba fan, and devouring a packet of crisps, including the packet itself all in one go. I also remember a gig at the Rock Garden. I was one of the few people at the gig with long hair, and Rat came up to me at the bar and said he thought I was Lemmy (! not sure if that was good or bad, but it seemed a fun complement at the time). That particular gig finished with an encore and The Captain coming back on stage stark naked and peeing on the crowd (who very quickly moved back and out of the way; luckily we were standing at the back). The City Hall ticket above was for a 1977 gig, at which they were supported by The Dead Boys, featuring the late great Stiv Bators. The Mayfair ticket is for a later gig (may actually be from the 80s). I also saw them at The City Hall supporting T Rex, which was a strange, but for me successful, pairing. I think I saw them once or twice at Durham University Dunelm Ballroom as well. What I remember of these guys was chaos, madness, great fun, some loud, fast punk rock. Great nights. Can I be young again?
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The Damned 70s gigs