Reviewed by Marc Savlov, Fri., Nov. 11, 2011
The DamnedAuditorium Shores, Nov. 5
If you caught a glimpse of a tall, cadaverously made-up gentleman sporting a powder-puff-gray complexion and antique cheaters wandering hither and yon throughout the festival grounds on Saturday, yes, that was Damned frontman Dave Vanian, doing a surprisingly passable version of Michael Jackson incognito as ... Dave Vanian. The Brit-punk godheads – first UK punk rock single ("New Rose"), first stateside tour (inspiring Darby Crash of Germs, no less), first track confronting hysterical UK censorship ("Nasty," memorably performed on anarcho-goof BBC Two series The Young Ones) – are in their 35th year, and proto-goth Vanian, surprisingly sensible guitarist Captain Sensible, and original keyboardist Monty Oxy Moron reminded festivalgoers why some punk rock is truly timeless. Set opener "Neat Neat Neat," off debut LP Damned Damned Damned, was machine-gun etiquette taken to the extreme. Punch-drummer Pinch, late of English Dogs, kept the impossible pace set by a seemingly insatiable Sensible as Vanian gave a nod to the Stooges' "I Feel Alright" before launching into live rarity "1 of the 2." From there on out, it was "The History of the World" according to the Damned: "Wait for the Blackout," "Love Song" ("Is she really going out with him?" Vanian queried), and riotous set closer/Occupy Everything anthem "Smash It Up" did exactly that.