The Damned, Ed Tudorpole & Texas Terri Bomb – The Warehouse – 30/05/10
It’s another early one at The Warehouse with 7pm doors on a Sunday night. Not an ideal situation but in Aberdeen you quickly learn to take what you can get cos punk gigs are pretty thin on the ground in this city. So we duly arrive at the venue just about bang on 7 o’clock, get our stamps and pitch up at the bar. There’s a couple of dozen people in, filling the tables and lining the bar area. We’ve just got our drinks and said our hellos to some mates when the rumblings of the first band emanate from the stage. It’s only 7.15 and hardly anyone is here yet – where’s the sense in that?
Anyway, Billy and I make our way down to the empty dancefloor and stroll right on up to the crash barrier accompanied by a few more early birds. ¾ of Texas Terri Bomb are onstage grinding out a riff, slow and heavy. The stick thin guitarist has one foot on his monitor already while the bass player sports an impressive scarlet Mohican. After a minute or two they’re joined by Texas Terri herself and the riff they’re churning out morphs into an evil sounding Be-Bop-A-Lula. Part Courtney Love, part Juliette Lewis, part Iggy Pop, Terri takes the song by the scruff of the neck as she howls out the lyrics, turning the song into something darker and dirtier than Gene Vincent could have imagined. With barely a pause for breath they slam into the next number with Terri pouting and spastic dancing through it. The band play basic, hard edged, New York influenced punk rock and Terri is the perfect front woman for them, loud, brash and in your face. I recognise a couple of tunes from their album Your Lips…My Ass! Which sound much better in the live setting than on the CD. They seem to be going down well enough with the small crowd lining the front of the stage but Terri isn’t satisfied. She hands the mic to someone as she comes down onto the dance floor and proceeds to take the music to the people, trying to whip up the small crowd into action. It doesn’t have much effect though and it’s not really until they trot out a couple of killer cover tunes at the end of the set that people really get going. They tear through Sonic Reducer with as much venom as the Dead Boys did originally and then we get a supercharged take on the Stooges’ I Wanna Be Your Dog which Terri sings from the table-tops up the side of The Warehouse, screaming the lyrics into the stunned faces of the people sitting there. When it’s over and the band leaves the stage, Terri makes her way back there thanking us for coming and plugging her merch. “And one last thing…” she says as she drops her trousers and waggles her arse at us before running off to join her bandmates. Pure punk rock!
There’s a short break as the stage is cleared and we decide to stick with our position on the barrier as the venue is starting to look a good bit busier. With his tattered glad-rags held together with safety pins and his instrument with string and parcel tape, Ed Tudorpole takes to the stage like a man possessed. His bug-eyed stare and wild grin are slightly disconcerting. He may act the clown but don’t be fooled. When it comes to the music, this guy is a serious talent. I don’t remember it from his brief stint in the spotlight back in the day but this guy can really play that battered, old guitar. I mean REALLY play, and the sound coming from it is unbelievably sweet despite the holes and scratches all over it and the fact the scratch plate is sellotaped on!
Like much of the old Tenpole Tudor stuff, the songs Ed treats us to tonight are very rock ‘n’ roll styled tunes with sharp and witty lyrics. They’re delivered in such a way that gives a rich and full sound which really leaves you forgetting that you’re watching a solo acoustic act. Ed is an engaging chap and his between-song banter quickly has the growing crowd onside. There’s songs about false moustaches, Black-Jacks and being/not being a punk. All clever wordsmithery wrapped up in bouncy tunes that scream out for you to sing along. Which we do of course on the smattering of hits that Eddie trots out. We get Three Bells In A Row. We get Throwing My Baby Out With The Bathwater. We get the story of Ed’s time as a Sex Pistol before Who Killed Bambi is despatched to hearty applause but the best is of course saved for last. After a pretty entertaining call and response session just to check that we were in good voice, we are treated to a rollicking, singalong version of Swords Of A Thousand Men which gets even the most hardened of punk rockers joining in with the “Hoorah, hoorah, hoor-aye-ay!” bits and leaves everyone grinning widely as Mr Tudorpole says his thanks and bids us farewell. A great performance from a great entertainer.
I’m pleased to see that by now, The Warehouse it pretty full. I spot a few known faces dotted throughout the crowd but there’s no way I’m moving from my spot on the barrier now. The roadies get the stage set up and I catch a look at the set list. I’m pretty chuffed to see it’s been shaken up a fair bit from the last couple of times I’ve seen them with a few things on there I haven’t heard live before. The excitement starts to build. Its time for The Damned. A cheer goes up as Pinch makes his way behind the kit and bassist Stu West straps on his guitar. Captain Sensible makes his way to his usual spot stage right wearing his trademark shades and red beret looking unfeasibly young and healthy. He stands there, arms outstretched milking the applause for a full five minutes before finally putting on his guitar. Finally Dave Vanian appears, also looking fantastic. He’s abandoned the moustachioed Clark Gable look of recent years and once again sports the rocker chic, black and white quiff, sharp shades and tight black t-shirt and jeans. There’s a further short delay as the Captain extols the virtues of the beer from the local Brew Dog microbrewery before finally they crash into Wait For The Blackout and The Warehouse finally starts to move. The sound is good. Very loud but well balanced where I am at any rate. A manic Disco Man follows and then Stu rumbles out a familiar bass intro. Monty’s staccato keyboards signal the start of I Just Can’t Be Happy Today. This gets a great response from the crowd and the place is jumping. The Captain gets down into the photo pit and wanders along the front row, at one point stopping right in front of me and offering me the chewing gum on his tongue. Just as I’m about to take it, he laughs and ducks away, returning to his spot on the stage. However, it appears that Pinch is clearly not happy with the onstage sound as he’s gesticulating wildly to the sound engineer. He’s not getting through though and gets up from his kit as the song draws to a close and heads over to the desk where a heated debate ensues.
The Captain finally notices he’s gone and asks the crowd whether they’d like him to get back behind the kit so they can continue. Pinch duly takes his place and they kick into Perfect Sunday off the recent So Who’s Paranoid? album. It’s a terrific song and sounds great out front. The problems onstage are clearly sorted out now as well because, after a couple of dodgy moments, Pinch is now grinning happily at the engineer as he pounds the kit. He and Stu really are the unsung heroes of the band. As a rhythm section, they’re really powerful, really driving the songs along. More importantly they’re tight as fuck, giving a solid base over which the Dave and Cap show can be played out. And it’s being played out rather splendidly with lots of smiles and banter between the old hands who are clearly enjoying themselves tonight.
Thrill Kill from 2001’s Grave Disorder album gets a rare outing and slows things down a little, the song’s subtle dynamics underlining the fact that The Damned are so much more than a ramalama punk act. Not that they’re averse to such things though as a rip-roaring take on Love Song proves. (“Just for you!” says the Cap). I’m delighted as the gentle Gun Fury marks the first of tonight’s tracks from the underrated Strawberries album. It’s followed by the big hit – their version of Eloise. I know they have to play it but it’s one of those songs I’d happily dismiss from the setlist. Tonight however, it really blows me away. At one point in the song, when Pinch lets loose with the double beaters on the kick drum while rolling round the toms, the effect is like an Amyl Nitrate rush and I’m left gasping then grinning. It’s truly incredible. The sad sack who was periodically slurring out “Bring back Rat” this evening really should open his ears and then maybe realise that Pinch is way more than a replacement for the scabious one.
The sophistication of The Limit Club – another one getting a rare outing tonight – makes way for a balls-out thrash through New Rose and (unbelievably) Fish. What other band could straddle such extreme opposite styles and make it seem so natural? In the past I’ve seen Sensible ruin these early period songs with unnecessary guitar wankery soloing all over the songs but not tonight. Tonight they’re short, sharp and raw just as they were created way back in 1976 and they bring scenes of chaos to The Warehouse as the Aberdeen punks, old and new, make their presence felt on the dancefloor. The shoulda-been single Bad Time For Bonzo gets a decent going over before the familiar bassline to Neat Neat Neat booms out, wringing the final ounces of energy from the sweating masses.
We know it’s not the end though. Seen the set list remember! After a few minutes, they’re back on and tearing through Stretcher Case Baby and Fan Club. Then the Captain gives us a choice – Jet Boy Jet Girl, Nasty or Shadow Of Love. What do we wanna hear? Nasty wins the toss and the band really lets rip with it. A storming version. After this, there’s a wee bit of discussions between the band about what to do next, how much time left etc. When the stage manager confirms plenty of time, Dave announces that they’re gonna try a song they’ve never done before. It’s a cover of a Sky Saxon (late singer of The Seeds) song which I think was called Satisfy You. It’s a typical 60s garage rocker and when it’s done, Dave laughingly apologies and says it didn’t really work. It sounded fine to me though, if not a patch on the originals on offer. The good Captain starts picking out the extended intro to the first part of Smash It Up and I know it’s the end of the set. Dave misses the cue for his shout but the crowd do it anyway and all hell breaks loose as the song kicks in, a joyous, nonsense romp that perhaps distils the very essence of The Damned down into 2.1/2 minutes of beautiful noise.
In the 30-odd years I’ve been going to gigs now, I’ve seen The Damned more times than any other band. Tonight is the best I’ve seen them in quite a few years. Tight, energised and clearly enjoying themselves playing the fresh material, it looks like they have plenty left in the tank. Here’s to another few years of anarchy, chaos & destruction.
New York Johnny
Wait For The Blackout
I Just Can’t Be Happy Today
Bad Time For Bonzo
Neat Neat Neat
Stretcher Case Baby
Thanks For The Night
Smash It Up Parts 1 & 2
The Damned Official Site
Ed Tudorpole MySpace
Texas Terri Bomb MySpace