The Damned brings their 40th Anniversary Tour (Dahlia Presents) to Deluxe at Old National Centre on April 26
I will never forget the first time I heard it. Buh-da-da-da-buh-da-da-da-buh-da-buh-daa-buh-da. It’s the sound of energy and one of the most iconic intros to a punk song. It’s the first moment you realize your eyes are open and your senses are about to be blown out of the water. You will never hear anything like it again. In the punk bible, the opener to Damned Damned Damned is as important as the first verses of Genesis.
Captain Sensibles’ bass line at the beginning of “Neat Neat Neat” was not just the precursor to the album, but also a statement of itself. In three seconds, you understood that this band was going to take no shit from anyone, and you better believe that if they were going to burn down the ship, you were going to go down with it, laughing all the way.
The Damned – Damned Damned Damned
“Neat Neat Neat” is a call to arms. Ground zero.
That impact is Dave Vanian’ sonic scream being amplified by Brian James guitar, roaring riffage like the Hell’s Angels on a joyride. “Be a man, can a mystery man,” sings Vanian. What do these words mean exactly? Being a confused teen all I knew was that this band was on a cool level I could never match. But I spent most of the ‘80s trying. The Black Album. Phantasmagoria, style progressed with the band, and we as fans followed suite.
The Damned – Neat Neat Neat Live on Supersonic
Forty years later, The Damned embarks on a tour that celebrates this historical moment of simply being The Damned. Of the dynamic three, they are the “last man standing.” The Clash are no more. Despite the occasional reformation, the Sex Pistols are quite. But The Damned has always been a consistent, releasing albums throughout the times and heading back into the studio to record a new album.
The Damned was a trigger of my youth. Damned Damned Damned changed everything. Nevermind The Bullocks was the intro into punk rock, but this album turned into a realization. It was dark. It was vicious. It was poetic. It is timeless. The way Nick Lowe used the band’s instruments as jarring punctuation, it borders on the obscene. His production work was unmatched.
To this day I still stare at the cover of that album. The moment after the band was hit by a bunch of pies, it was mesmerizing. Nothing was to be taken seriously, not even punk rock. A photo of the band and their name was all they needed for the cover. That is all they needed. That is how confident they were in their musical statement.
The Damned Playing “Neat Neat Neat,” “Problem Child” and “Fan Club” in 1977
“Fan Club” mimicked our sentiments of tired and drugged out arena rockers who thought they were bigger than God. The song, as egotistical as it sounds, mocked the old regime because they no longer represented the youth of the time.
Where Paul Stanley lit up the mid-’70s with the circus atmosphere of “Flaming Youth” (“Flaming Youth will set the night on fire”), James understood youth culture when writing “Feel The Pain.” We could grovel in the song. The way Vanian sang it is exactly how we felt about puberty and how we dealt with that transition between kid and adult. We no longer had to hear ‘50s/’60s parental philosophy of “suck it up, kid.” The Damned understood our pain and gave us the means to let it out.
The Damned – New Rose
“New Rose” was one of the primary reasons for this album to exist. The song was previously released. The debutante soundtrack was initially a stand alone single. What was interesting is that the song was pushed deep into the album. And “New Rose” becomes buried with the rest of the album because of the amazing punk rock staples. “See Her Tonite,” “Stab Your Back,” “So Messed Up,” there will be much to reminisce about on this 40th Anniversary tour.
The album ends with a cover of The Stooges’ “I Feel Alright.” It’s a perfect ending. Don’t worry about us. We’ve got this. That is the sentiment the band gives homage to before saying adieu.
It’s hard to believe this album is now 40 years old. Every time I put on Damned Damned Damned the seismic impact is felt just like the first time I heard it. What is not hard to believe is its relevancy today. It was and still is a blueprint for teenage angst. I hope to see people young and old smiling from ear to ear when the band takes the stage.