I really just can't be happy today
After a good performance on this stage last year The Damned are invited back to headline the Saturday night in this their 30th anniversary year. Unfortunately tonight their set is plagued with technical problems right from the start.
They kick off with 'Love Song' and straight away it's evident all is not well, the band are out of sync with each other and it's clear they can't hear each other in the monitors. It gets worse though as towards the end of the song all the sound apart from the mics cuts out altogether and the song just grinds to a halt. They soldier on for a while but the damage has been done for many of the crowd and as it starts to rain a fair few towards the back start to drift away.
It's not until 'History of the World' that they really start to get back on track but the band seem to have been affected by the problems. Monty refrains from his usual wild leaping, bassist Stu hardly moves throughout (but then he never moves much anyway!) and Vanian's vocals lack any kind of urgency. It's left to Captain Sensible to carry the torch and he turns in a superb performance, I've seen him play sloppily in the past but tonight he's excellent. Captain aside I'm struggling to get over the initial impression and this isn't helped when they play Love's 'Alone Again Or'. It was just about bearable on record but it really is poor live and I can find no good reason for its inclusion when they have so many far better songs at their disposal.
Being their 30th anniversary year they predictably play a host of classics from their back catalogue, 'New Rose', 'Neat Neat Neat', 'Curtain Call' and of course 'Eloise', which always sounds much better live than it did on record. Once again though I can't understand why they don't play any material from the excellent 2001 'Grave Disorder' album. It seems that they are content to live off past glories these days and maybe this outdoor setting doesn't help but it all just falls a bit flat. Every long term Damned fan seems to go through a period where they become disillusioned with the band and I think perhaps it's my turn. Apart from the ever present die hards at the front it doesn't seem that too many of the crowd are impressed and to be fair the band haven't really done enough to justify their headline status. As they finish Vanian throws his mic onto the floor and stalks off, it seems nobody's happy with the nights proceedings.
When The Damned are on top form they are really something special and perhaps that makes a sub standard performance all the more noticeable but tonight they just didn't live up to expectations.