|The Damned/Mark Wynn - York, Fibbers - 10th August 2013|
|Written by Ben Hughes|
|Wednesday, 21 August 2013 03:00|
York, like every city the world over, has its fair share of buskers, street performers and troubadours plying their trade. Along with the likes of Boss Caine, Mark Wynn is one of these local singer/songwriters who is well worth checking out if you like a bit of acoustic folkery. On first look he may be a bit of an odd choice as support to The Damned, but a fine warm up act he is. A self-confessed mumbler of song and spiel, Mark is one of those storytellers with a keen sense of humour, and as he plucks his acoustic we get tales of living with Debbie Harry, ripping off The Fall and his teenage Johnny Thunders fixation. There is plenty of in-between song stories filled with Northern humour, as Mark it seems is as much a spoken word performer as an acoustic singer/songwriter. His songs are quirky, half-sung half-mumbled, at times he seems to be talking to himself as much as the audience, all in all it's quite charming, witty and very likeable.
The Damned are something of a rock 'n' roll institution these days, still at it touring after all these years; count them, what is it...35 years give or take a few? The constant gigging has made them into one of the finest live bands still touring from their era. I still remember the first time I saw them, playing 'Nasty' on The Young Ones - wow, a vampire fronting a rock 'n' roll band! They looked so cool, I didn't even realise back then that the guy who had a hit single with 'Happy Talk' was playing guitar for this cool band. That guitar player of course left for many years but has been back at it with The Damned for 15 years or so now.
This is not the first time The Damned have played at Fibbers and I'm sure it won't be the last: The Captain has fond memories of Fibbers as he tells us from the stage tonight, even remembering the stage was at the other side of the venue when they last played here and asking what happened to the Cliff Richard poster as it would look good in his living room.
They are on fine form and it is evident from the off that it's going to be an intense and sweaty one tonight. Opening with 'Love Song' was never going to fail of course, the pogoing starts immediately and doesn't cease for the next 4-5 classic songs as my teenage years are revisited once again. 'Machine Gun Etiquette', 'Neat Neat Neat' and 'I Just Can't Be Happy Today' follow the opener in quick succession and sound as good as the day I first heard them.
A sea of pogoing and mostly bald headed men of a certain age is quite a strange sight, but 45 year old elbows hurt just as much as 18 year old elbows, if not more, so after a few songs of joining in I step back to the edge of the chaos to watch and try in vain to catch a few half decent snaps. The Damned have the energy of a band half their age and the duo of Vanian and Sensible still look great, and even more importantly sound great. Vanian, with his now-trademark pencil thin moustache, high waist trousers and big stiff collared white shirt, is more Gone With The Wind than cool vampire these days and The Captain in his beret and combat shorts show they have both aged better than most.
The Captain has a good relationship with his crowd and has many stories to tell including something about Geoff Boycott being a local hero and the revelation that Seabrook crisps are the best apparently, not sure if I agree with that one (I think he said he advertised them).
'Eloise' and an extended and I must say awesome sounding 'Ignite' end the main set with the whole crowd singing along to the "woah woah" parts, and many would be happy for it to end just like that, but of course there is more to come.
'Nasty', the song that first introduced me to The Damned is one of several encores tonight, but not before Monty Oxy Moron treats us to some wild prog rock wankery on his keyboard before breaking into 'Melody Lee', and as we reach the fourth encore Vanian says this is the moment he dreads each night "Do you wanna hear 'Happy Talk' or 'Smash It Up'?" The biggest cheer of course is for Captain Sensible's cheesy number one single and he leads the band into a punked up version of that same song, followed by his other classic hit 'Wot' - no really he did, lucky us eh?!
'Smash It Up' is a pure punk rock anthem if ever there was one, and this final blast sees the crowd going mental as people elbow each other to near death down the front and we really wouldn't want it any other way would we?
One of the most thoroughly enjoyable gigs of the year and I can say without a shadow of a doubt that on tonight's performance The Damned have lost none of their ability to kick ass live over the years and seem more relevant now than they have in many years, a testament to the fact that old punks never die, they just keep coming back for more.