Seventies gothic punk-rock stalwarts The Damned have become, if possible, more eccentric and outrageous as they grow older, with many of their live traits coming across as delightfully raucous.
At a 40th-anniversary show at London’s KOKO, taking place before a bigger night down the road at the O2 Forum in Kentish Town, they run helter-skelter style through tracks from their debut Damned, Damned, Damned along with music from their upcoming new album Evil Spirits.
They have a fantastic rapport with the crowd, so much so that each comment its two frontmen make seems like an in-joke between fans (mostly clad in black leather or ripped denim).
Dave Vanian, born David Lett, appears to possess a vampiric immortality, looking far younger than his 61 years as he prowls the stage in a long coat, black leather gloves and slicked-back hair.
He belts out lyrics with his impressively sonorous voice; resplendent on the darkly rousing “Street of Dreams”, while The Damned’s other original member Captain Sensible – Raymond Burns – channels Dennis the Menace in his trademark red beret and a stripy black and red shirt.
On “Smash It Up” the crowd go particularly wild and the moshpit widens; men in their forties push and shove one another with childish abandon. Returning at the end of the set, just a little out of breath, for the outrageous “Jet Boy Jet Girl”, they urge their fans onto one, rollicking final frenzy. It’s all devilishly good fun.
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