The Damned / Emptifish - Cardiff, Tramshed – 27 November 2016 Print E-mail
Written by Nev Brooks   
Saturday, 03 December 2016 03:00

Do you know I’m really getting into this venue? its rapidly becoming one of my favourites on the local circuit: not too big, but large enough to generate a hell of an atmosphere. So, for the second time in a week, I’m heading westward to watch a band playing a classic LP in it’s entirety.


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After The Levellers tearing the roof off the place performing ‘Levelling The Land’, tonight’s the turn of The Damned playing ‘Damned, Damned, Damned’ in its entirety. This is the first Damned album, and to me is as classic as the first Clash or Sex Pistols LPs. I’d go as far as to say it holds up just as well too.


To mainstream audiences, they were not taken with the same seriousness as some of the "more respected" punk bands of 1977. Given the power on display all the way through, this had great songs and not a mediocre track on it. ‘Damned Damned Damned’, along with having one of the coolest album covers of all time, is also bundled with some of Brian James' best work. I mean just look at the track listing on this baby! What could possibly go wrong?


But before we get to The Damned, we had another band: Portsmouth’s Emptifish. I knew absolutely nothing about them prior, entering the gig thinking there was no support, but after being more than impressed by the surf punk noise, I intend to put that right.


There’s an LP, ‘6;57: The Best of Emptifish’ (aimed at the 6:57 crew grounded in football culture, or they were at the time back in the Eighties), and I couldn’t believe on searching backwards how big these guys got… What did they sound: like Cliff Richard and the Shadows on acid!!! Or maybe a hell of a lot like the Cramps! I was Smiling from start to finish, as the rest of the audience were: a more than adequate back up to the main event.


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After a quick change over, we get the ‘Fanfare For The Common Man’ - a funny intro when you think punk rose as a kick back against dinosaurs like ELP - and then we’re off… I mean come on starting any set with one of the greatest singles ever written: it just doesn’t get better! ‘Neat, Neat, Neat’ was and is simply stunning live, setting the tone for a show that built and built. With one notable exception: no ‘Stab Your Back”. In fairness, did I really miss it? Not sure, but when your playing an album in its entirety isn’t there an expectation,?


Listening with older ears, the LP is as fresh to me today as when I first heard it, and alongside ‘Machine Gun Etiquette’, really stands out as my favourite Damned incarnation. Stand outs obviously are ‘New Rose’, ‘Neat, Neat, Neat’ and ‘Feel The Pain’ - and before you knew it the Captain was announcing that's it… we’ve done it. So on to part two kicking off a real romp through one of the best back catalogues out there.


‘Nasty’, ‘Disco Man’ were blinding; ‘Ignite’, ‘Waiting For The Blackout were even better. ‘Love Song’, ‘Anti-Pope’ and ‘Smash It Up’? Simply stunning. The downer? We had both ‘Grimly Fiendish’ (or if you like The Damned play Madness, complete with trumpet) and ‘Eloise’: funny, their two biggest hits were the two tracks I could have done without.


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On top of this we had Paul Gray appear for ‘Generals’ and ‘Stranger On The Town’, their version of ‘White Rabbit’ - I’d forgotten this one - and of ‘Alone Again Or’, and rather blinding versions of ‘Melody Lee’ and ‘Noise Noise Noise’.


Two hours flew by: and I could have done it all again. After 40 years as the Captain said ”we can still rock!”. No arguments from me, and a gig that will sit comfortably towards the top of my gig of the year listing.