The Damned: Live at the Fillmore

Dave VanianThe Damned, The BelRays, Electric Frankenstein
Fillmore at Irving Plaza
May 14, 2009

It’s sad to say, but the number of living legends from the early part of  punk history is dwindling rather quickly. With the death of three quarters of The Ramones, Joe Strummer, Arthur “Killer” Kane, and (most recently) Lux Interior, the need to see bands that are still alive (and killing it on stage) is a must.

Luckily, the dark princes of punk, The Damned, are still vivacious as ever, churning out new records and putting enough emotion in their concerts to show up even the rowdiest new band.

The Damned made good on their cancelled December dates, returning with two pure rock acts in tow—Jersey street rockers Electric Frankenstein and R&B rave up act The BellRays.

EF has got to be one of the hardest working band in punk rock. These guys have been around forever, continue to crank out solid records, and put their all into every set. In about 45 minutes they tore through a dozen and a half, high-octone, fist pumping classics in an effort to warm up the aging scenesters that came out to see The Damned—it worked, and judging by the line at the merch table, the band scored some new fans too.

The BellRays were unknown to me before the show, and I’m really upset I missed out on them for all these years. Like a rock & roll Aretha Franklin, singer Lisa Kekaula and The BellRays schooled the uninitiated with a gritty guitar style and furious vocals. The crowd sang along with every call and response, stomped along to the dirty blues beat.

Yes, the crowd was now warmed up for The Damned.

Skewing heavily towards their early punk tunes, the band launched into a firestorm of “Love Song,” “Second Time Around,” “Anti-Pope,” and “New Rose” as kids surged the stage to sing along with Dave Vanian who looked like a goth Morrissey with his meticulous suit and slicked pompadour.

Captain Sensible, ever the punk rocker, bounced around the stage, cranking out the band’s three-chord riffs while Pinch and Monty banged around wildly on drums and keys, respectively.

The show culminated with rousing renditions of “Ignite” and “Neat Neat Neat,” the former really highlighting just how great Vanian’s pipes still are.

The band returned after a short encore with the melancholy “Curtain Call” before closing out with smashmouth versions of “Noise Noise Noise” and the ever popular “Smash It Up.”

The Damned put in a solid hour and 45 minute performance, never missing a beat and hardly ever slowing down. Sure the set skewed towards the band’s older material, but do we really need to hear that much of their ’80s work?  Don’t answer that. Just go see them when they come around.


Love Song
Second Time Around
New Rose
Under the Wheels
Alone Again Or
Disco Man
I Fall
Dr Woofenstein
Melody Lee
Neat Neat Neat
Dark Asteroid
Curtain Call
Stretcher Case
Noise Noise Noise
Jet Boy, Jet Girl
Smash it Up

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Author: George Koroneos

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  1. Gorgeous photo! Will we get to see more?

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