7th December 2002
The Empire, Belfast, N. Ireland
And so the Damned roadshow rolled into town again for a show at a packed Empire, last time it was only half filled. This time after the criticism for playing a punk greatest hits comp twice on their previous visit they actually had two support bands.
First band on were the Things who were musically steeped in the sixties but were a very tight unit.
Local rockabilly kings the Sabrejets were up next, fronted by Brian Young ex-Rudi. The band tore through a set of hard rockin originals with a couple of greased up covers of Johnny Thunders 'Lil bit of whore' and the Ramones 'Blitzkrieg bop'. Though Youngsy was clearly pissed off at some people in the audience calling for Rudi songs, no-one in the place would have been more delighted than me to hear a Rudi classic, but at the end of the day the Sabrejets are where he's at now and you have to respect that. They are a very good band and they put on an excellent show and I'm sure the audience would agree! Mid-set the drum stool broke and Youngsy joked with the audience, asking "if anyone had brought a spare drumstool with them?", but this unintended interval was put to good use as an opportunity to shift some Sabrejets merchandise, T-shirts - "buy one for someone you don't like" was a comment from the band and Brazilian cds all available from the stage.
During the break between the Sabrejets and the Damned while the equipment was being changed around we were treated to the greatest hits of Herb Alpert and his Tijuana brass, jesus I'm sure I wasn't the only one wishing they still had that punk comp. from last time. And so on came the Damned. The Captain had earlier went for a walkabout through the crowd with little or no fuss from the people who had payed to see him, and was only recognised by all the old ex-punks in the crowd like me. The band performed their usual high energy chaotic show 'Neat ,Neat ,Neat', 'Love Song' and 'New Rose', one classic after another! On the stage right we had the Captain dressed in regulation red berret and shades, a kilt which he frequently lifted and a 'don't bomb Iraq!' T-shirt. Stage left Patricia Morrison was looking gothicly good, laying down some thundering bass which last time was bearly audiable and seemingly in a world of her own. Pinch was on drums and Monty Oxymoron keyboards made up the rest of the band as always. But it's Dave Vanian who can surely lay claim to being one of the coolest men in punk. The guy just looked great as he prowled the stage with the gold Elvis mic and black leather gloves, doing all his trademark moves and sounding fantastic. The Damned played a great show, but it was during the encore of 'Smash it up' that things on stage turned nasty. By now the Captain was virtually naked, except for a revoltingly tight leopard skin thong, and showing his spotty arse to the audience, which we had already become immune to anyway, as we had seen it so many times. Not a pretty sight! The drummer Pinch had decided to take the lyrics of the song to heart and started to smash up the drumkit, the only problem being the drums didn't belong to him, they belonged to the Things. He managed to pull over the bass drum onto the floor, and was about to throw a tom when he was grabbed by a security guy and the drum was taken off him. The stage was flooded with security guys, and one guy looked as if he was going to punch the head of the drummer and was being held back. The band had exited the stage by now, but apparently the fracas had continued into the backstage area, with various people wanting to batter members of the Damned!
Me and my mate Facer managed to get backstage almost right away, but the band had already scarpered out the back door and over to their hotel Madisons, accross the road. Then they were acting the famous popstars bit, which they are not, and didn't even come out to talk to fans who were standing around the hotel door. A gorilla of a roadie who was an ignorant git and lucky he didn't get a slap was stopping a taxi for Sensible, who rushed through with a girl but not before he posed for a photo with my mate. So full marks to the Captain, but the rest of them should be glad that in 2002 some people are still prepared to go out on a winters night to see them! Personally, I think they were scared to come out after the drums fiasco!!!
Joe Donnelly, Belfast