Touring their new studio album ‘Darkedelic’, The Damned regrouped not long after the wheels had cooled following their 40th anniversary reunion shows, featuring the band’s original members, but now they bring a fresh faced lineup that recruits Will Taylor on drums, who replaces longstanding drummer Pinch.

The setlist was taken almost exclusively from the new album, with opening track ‘Street of Dreams’ superseded by the band’s new main single, ‘Invisible Man’, with its chaos centre of rippling mirage, dreamscape guitar and Dave Vanian’s Hammer horror-style laughing. They also performed new song ‘Bad Weather Girl’: a basic punk anthem with an underwhelming guitar solo, livened up somewhat by Vanian’s ‘Singin’ in The Rain’ stage antics, which saw him twirling an umbrella against a stormy backdrop.

The album’s more forward thinking tracks, third single, ‘You’re Gonna Realise’ and ‘Western Promise’, lacked the instrumental pomp of the recorded versions, without the warm brass of Chris Coull on trumpet, who’s played live with the band in the past, and Captain Sensible’s pinchy metallic guitar. They then went straight into their second new single, ‘Beware of The Clown’, for which Vanian childishly donned a red clown nose and hat. Funeral hymn, ‘Wake The Dead’, is let down by sharing guitar chords with ‘Stranger on The Town’ from ‘Strawberries’, and with a guitar and keyboard interval that borrows heavily off Pink Floyd’s ‘Dark Side of The Moon’.

The Damned played two more songs from the new album in their main set: ‘Leader of The Gang’ – embarrassingly with their crew coming onstage dressed up in tacky, DIY space rock outfits that did anything but honour the glam rock era – and ‘From Your Lips’, with coordinated pitched guitar parts and stripped down drumming that sounded fantastic live, before finishing on classic, ‘Neat Neat Neat’, stretched out to more creatively incorporate an interlude of blues rock from ‘LA Woman’ by The Doors and ‘Folsom Prison Blues’ by Johnny Cash. The band are unfortunately still stuck in a Catch-22 of nostalgia punk rock, thinking literally clowning around is somehow moving their music forward, if only saved by Vanian’s innovative songwriting and lyrical content.

21/04/23: The Damned @ Alexandra Palace, London.

Photos © Anna Marchesani/Nocturna Photography.

© Ayisha Khan.