May 26th, 2019 | Photos

Photos by Carlos Garcia

“This is place is so fucking special. This is where I would want to see a band play,” declared Captain Sensible of British legends The Damned. How special it was that The Damned play the tiny tiny Alex’s Bar for two consecutive nights before heading out to Las Vegas for Punk Rock Bowling. Wow.

From the line that stretched out the door to the screams and cheers as ]the Captain played the first chords to “Love Song,” the excitement and energy in the air was palpable–it was indeed visceral.

Although vocalist Dave Vanian and the Captain are the only original members, bassist Paul Gray, drummer Pinch and Monty Oxymoron on keys have been with The Damned long enough to be considered family and well regarded as The Damned.

They were about to play their seminal album Machine Gun Etiquette from start to finish.

It was the second song and title track “Machine Gun Etiquette” that truly set things off as everyone sang and yelled the backing vocal phrase, “Second time Around!” Vanian, the masterful frontman that he is, egged us on with every line.

No more getting pushed around. SECOND TIME AROUND!

Back to haunt you with our sound. SECOND TIME AROUND!

With each repetition, with each yell in unison, we became closer and closer.

It may be that Machine Gun Etiquette was released 40 years ago but the energy and the raw presence the band still has on stage is undeniable. Vanian’s distinct and influential style demands attention. His voice and ability control the room cannot go unnoticed. Songs like “Anti-Pope”, “Noise Noise Noise”, and “Liar” still resonate.

“Smash it Up” marked the end of Machine Gun Etiquette. The Captain joked, “So what are we going to do for the rest of our set?” Little did we know The Damned were just getting started. They were barely halfway through their 22 song set. That was just a bit of a warm up for them.

“Neat Neat Neat” got the circle pit was in full swing with people bouncing off the walls. I mean, not many place to go at Alex’s.

They closed out the night with “Ignite.” For the chorus Vanian commanded us to sing and chant along with him until we found ourselves bellowing the chorus in unison.

“Ooooo ohh ooh”

“Louder!” Vanian demanded. We obliged.

“Louder!” Vanian demanded once again. He’s our leader.

The music slowly disappeared and gave way to every single person chanting this primordial chant- almost as a mantra–as if to give proper closure to this ritual we had all just finished taking part in.

Setlist via

Machine Gun Etiquette

Love Song
Machine Gun Etiquette
I Just Can’t Be Happy Today
Play Video
Melody Lee
These Hands
Plan 9 Channel 7
Noise Noise Noise
Looking at You (MC5 cover)
Smash it Up

Twisted Nerve
So Messed Up
Standing on the Edge of Tomorrow
Street of Dreams
Wait for the Blackout
New Rose
Neat Neat Neat

Curtain Call