The Damned, Kill City Creeps @ The Metro Theatre, Sydney (21/1/2012)

The Kill City Creeps have the honour of being the support band tonight. They also have the horror of opening tonight. It’s great to have the chance to play to packed auditorium, but also unsettling to know what ever you do will be overshadowed by The Damned. The Kill City Creeps’ name gives a clue to their Detroit (specifically MC5 and The Stooges) influenced sound. The Creeps sound is heavy on vibe, helped by the use of an organ, and I kept waiting for them to unleash a sonic fury to rival Search and Destroy, but they were happy to keep the pace atmospheric.

The early punk bands, in most cases, were true to Lao Tzu’s observation that the flame that burns twice as bright burns half as long. The Pistols shocked, rocked, and imploded on their way to changing the face of music forever. The Clash pranced, rocked, and wore out. The Damned are seemingly oblivious to this philosophy and are doing their best to burn bright and long. Original damned souls Dave Vanian and Captain Sensible refuse to die and continually recruit new musicians to keep the band alive.

The Damned start with Wait for the Blackout, with Vanian’s voice powerful and haunting, if sounding a little too much like a gothic Elvis Presley. The songs favoured the Captain Sensible penned tunes off The Black Album and Machine Gun Etiquette until New Rose blistered the paint off the walls. The crowd went into spasms of ecstasy rivalled by those of keyboardist Monty Oxymoron who never seemed to recover.

Captain Sensible entertains throughout the night, not just with his guitar but with his jokes and stories. He even does a version of his Number 1 hit, Happy Talk, late in the night.

The set list favours the songs from the days of the Captain with little from after his final album, Strawberries. Shadow of Love, although suiting Vanian’s voice, almost seems out of place against the fury of Neat Neat Neat and Anti Pope. The band bring out Go Go Dancers to compensate, but I’m not sure it helped. Love Song needed nothing more than the band and remains one of the great songs of all time.

The final song of the night was, fittingly, Smash It Up, complete with a crowd sing-along and Captain Sensible wringing the life out of his guitar. The Damned are what all bands should aspire to be. I hope their chaos never ends.