THE DAMNED’S 40TH ANNIVERSARY + ALICE BAG @ THE BELASCO THEATRE
As diehard fans of The Damned trickled into The Belasco adorned with buttons, jackets, t-shirts, hats bought over the last 40 years and dressed appropriately in black, legendary punk singer-activist Alice Bag and her band (which includes her daughter) took the stage. The East LA born fiery punker mentioned we were here to celebrate 40 years of The Damned and when they first performed in LA, she was there. She, along with Patricia Morrison (Sisters of Mercy, The Damned and married Dave Vanian) formed the band Bags and the rest is history.
Inspired by past and present political movements and events, Alice Bag set the tempo for the evening with a slew of rebellious anthems like “No Means No,” “Programmed,” “White Justice,” and “Modern Day Virgin Sacrifice.”
Just before getting into “Reign of Fear,” Alice engaged in crowd participation, asking everyone to visualize someone they hate, “Think about someone who causes you pain, now hold that thougt. It could be your boss, your cousin. I will count to three and you will shout the person’s name.” There was a big shout of various names (Trump standing out a bit). Then we all let loose.
Bag always challenged the status quo and today, we need more outspoken vocalists and songwriters like Alice Bag.
The Damned’s keyboardist Monty Oxymoron first took the stage as we erupted into thunderous applause. It was going to start. Vocalist Dave Vanian, the Captain, bassist Stu West and Pinch on percussion quickly came on stage and went right into “Melody Lee.”
We were fully engaged throughout the set’s entirety, pogo-ing and pitting to riotous classics like “Love Song,” “Machine Gun Etiquette,” “Smash It Up,” “New Rose” “Neat Neat Neat” and so many more.
“We’re very serious musicians you know. We take our craft very seriously,” the Captain said. “Are you sweating down in the front there? You haven’t done anything, we’ve done all the work,” joking with a fan. “I’m sweating my fucking guts out at the age of 62 for you bastards. Is anyone 62? Am I the oldest cunt in the fucking room?”
The Damned are like a fine wine, in that they only get better with age. The sounds of their instrumentals along with Vanian’s vocals are still so enticingly immaculate. If anything’s changed at all, it’s only that they’ve become increasingly more cheeky, occasionally taking jabs at Morrissey and Phil Collins throughout the evening.
At the start of the second encore, the band were thrilled to reveal that they had just recently signed a record deal. “This is a very historic moment. We just signed a fucking record deal so you’ll be hearing more of us!” “You cant get rid of us! We’re gonna make lots more fucking records you bastards!”
It’s also not every day that you have the privilege of seeing the surprisingly well-rounded ass of a 62 year-old man. “I’ve still got it!” the Captain exclaimed as the crowd roared with laughter. He then proceeded to exit the stage with his trousers at his ankles, an unexpected yet, noteworthy end to an incredible career-spanning set.
I Just Can’t Be Happy Today
Alone Again Or (Love cover)
Machine Gun Etiquette
Street of Dreams
Eloise (Paul Ryan cover)
Stranger on the Town
Plan 9 Channel 7
Wait for the Blackout
The History of the World (Part 1)
Neat Neat Neat
Jet Boy, Jet Girl (Elton Motello cover)
Noise Noise Noise
Smash It Up