Review – The Damned, Theatre of Hate, Ruts DC – London, Roundhouse

Friday 13th December 2013.

So after our last adventure in time and space with the sojourn at Leamington Spa, we once more put the time machine in mothballs. After all, how on earth were we going to top that?

This of course didn’t turn out to be too much of a quandary… The answer was staring us in the face, all along! The moon was growing larger. Comets were fading in the brilliance of the sun. The numbers began to add up. After Wednesday, soon Friday must follow… After 11 and 12 you will find the answer… Thirteen!

All of which led us to the conclusion that, to top that, you must do it all again, only better!

So we boarded the slivery silvery earth worm and headed for Chalk Farm.

Sibling in Black and myself sought refuge on the good ship Enterprise, with its fine Wenches serving an assortment of ales to the thirsty black clad masses! We momentarily ventured to the Middle East for refreshment of another kind. Before heading into the heart of the Citadel…

Do not be afraid!

Do not be afraid of The Damned…

The Damned are not afraid!

Not afraid of putting on a top show, with two support acts of the highest quality. And then some…

Ruts DC took the stage at a very early 7.20 pm on this Friday evening. And it was nice to see that the audience had filled out very quickly to catch them. Kicking off with Mighty Soldier, they sounded great and super tight. The drums were up front and the bass sounded great (although it was a little lost in the chasm that is the Roundhouse). Guitars and vocals were both clear and cut through the mix nicely. Again they gave us a perfect mix of their patented blend of Punkified Reggae or Reggaefied Punk! Both Old and new material sat side by side really well. The crowd really responded positively, and classics like Staring At The Rude Boys and Babylon’s Burning took us all by storm. A nice surprise in tonight’s set was the inclusion of Ruts classic Society. Let’s hope this band is back out on tour very soon.

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Next up were Theatre of Hate. I didn’t know what to expect. But having collected their early singles and first album in my youth, I was pleasantly surprised to hear these songs were fairly broadly covered in the set. The band seemed to be really into it and put on a great show. Enjoying the moment, they came across well. The crowd seemed to pick up on that. And a large portion of the crowd were singing along and dancing. Kirk Brandon seemed fairly ageless up on the stage, instantly recognizable as the strange punky guy that used to haunt Stanwell Moor decades ago. He seems to have an inherent awkwardness about him mixed with a tough guy stance, an odd combination, all of which adds to his uniqueness and stage presence. And then, when he opens his mouth to sing… What a voice. Great stuff, he’s still got it in abundance! Really powerful voice. Great set. Again the bass got a little lost at times but that does seem to be a flaw of the venue.

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Before we knew it we were on to the main event. The Damned!

Kicking off with Sanctum Sanctorum, the stage was awash with an eerie lighting that felt like some kind of psychedelic electric blue fog. Which was most apt, as Dave Vanian appeared like some dapper Dickensian vampire in his Frock coat and Top Hat. The atmosphere was ablaze.

damned fog

I’m pleased to report that the sound was crisp and clear, with all instruments audible, it was a great mix and not too loud.

Don’t Cry Wolf was next and was quite simply stonking! We were again treated to the opening three songs from the triumvirate of their classic albums; Machine Gun Etiquette, Black Album and Strawberries. There were less tracks from Damned x 3 tonight but instead we were treated to the delightful Plan 9 Channel 7, Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, Antipope and Jet Boy Jet Girl.

The band were on fire tonight… Tighter than a tight thing! The crowd were rammed in and the whole place seemed to be singing along (myself included) verbatim. Amazing! The chemistry between Messrs Vanian and Sensible was working like a well-oiled machine tonight. Mr Vanian in particular had the whole stage covered, moving effortlessly from side to side and engaging his fellow band mates and audience alike he put on a brilliant show. Also, the Captain’s yoga classes seem to be paying off as he has now mastered the ability to levitate the guitar just above his head with no strings attached (well, clearly there were strings attached to the guitar in the traditional sense… Oh you know what I mean!) And no hands! The classics were there of course… New Rose, Love Song, Neat x3 (I was willing Monty to break into Break on Through during this one but alas it was not to be!). All the while Pinch and Stu laid down a firm foundation for all of this to take place.

All too soon, we were at the encores but Dave had one more little Christmas present to conjure from his Top Hat… For the encore we were given the masterpiece Curtain Call! Exquisite! During the atmospheric opening, time and reality began to shift, as I felt myself drawn ever closer to the ethereal… I could swear it was almost as if Mr Vanian was standing right in front of me offering me a firm hand shake from his gloved hand before drifting back on stage to tend to the vocal matters! Then Smash it up and then they were gone. Back out into the night from whence they came….

Or was it all some kind of dream? Some silky satin nightmare of pleasure and pain….

Come back soon… Don’t leave us drifting here too long!

Friday the Thirteenth…

Lucky for some!

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