40 years on, the Damned reclaim history despite oversight and injury

by

THIS LITTLE UNDERGROUND
The Damned, the BellRays and Grave Return, House of Blues, May 12
The Damned at House of Blues - JEN CRAY
  • Jen Cray
  • The Damned at House of Blues
History is fluid thing, thankfully. Perspective can right past slights. The Damned are a capital example. In the annals of rock, these irreverent punk chameleons have long been eclipsed by fellow U.K. contemporaries the Sex Pistols and the Clash even though they’re just as seminal and O.G. But, in recent years, the Damned have been enjoying some restitution of prestige. Rightfully so, considering their place in time, their originality and the sheer ground they've covered. It’s a path that’s left defining marks in punk, goth and even the alternative rock canon at large.
The Damned at House of Blues - JEN CRAY
  • Jen Cray
  • The Damned at House of Blues
Well, now the Damned – and X, who play the Beacham tonight, for that matter – are both on official campaigns to make us all feel old – I mean, 40th anniversary tours. But back on April 30, Captain Sensible broke a hip – I mean, a rib – leading to some show postponements. Luckily, he’s still too punk to let it swerve him too much so the Orlando date stood.
The Damned at House of Blues - JEN CRAY
  • Jen Cray
  • The Damned at House of Blues
Onstage, that condition rendered the guitarist somewhat immobile in a sitting position all night. But he handled the convalescence with humor and flair by performing from an uplit toilet (whose tank served as his beer cooler, of course).
The Damned at House of Blues - JEN CRAY
  • Jen Cray
  • The Damned at House of Blues
The Damned at House of Blues - JEN CRAY
  • Jen Cray
  • The Damned at House of Blues
More than just a funny detail, though, it’s emblematic of a certain spirit. And that spirit – of pluck, of indomitability – would define the band’s entire being.
The Damned at House of Blues - JEN CRAY
  • Jen Cray
  • The Damned at House of Blues
The Damned at House of Blues - JEN CRAY
  • Jen Cray
  • The Damned at House of Blues
The Damned at House of Blues - JEN CRAY
  • Jen Cray
  • The Damned at House of Blues
Even after over 40 years, they looked good, sounded great and came poised with weird charisma intact and surprisingly little rust. Dave Vanian’s croon was still rich, the Captain’s guitar-playing tight as ever and their sense of camp and theater still tall. Oh, and they played a two-hour set with two encores (including a great cover of Elton Motello’s “Jet Boy, Jet Girl”). Punk bands in their fifth decade aren’t supposed to do this. But the Damned did. Then again, they also just signed a new record deal for their first album in almost a decade. What this performance exemplified about them is that, in fitness and in legacy, they’ve managed to not just stand time’s test but defy history long enough for it to catch up with them. Now that’s how you do it, boys.
The Damned at House of Blues - JEN CRAY
  • Jen Cray
  • The Damned at House of Blues
Touring openers the BellRays are a rock & roll band that rips with garage grit and drips with heavy soul. They may be from California but they kick like Detroit.
The BellRays at House of Blues - JEN CRAY
  • Jen Cray
  • The BellRays at House of Blues
The BellRays at House of Blues - JEN CRAY
  • Jen Cray
  • The BellRays at House of Blues
The BellRays at House of Blues - JEN CRAY
  • Jen Cray
  • The BellRays at House of Blues
An especially nice addition to the bill were local openers Grave Return, a punk band with classic sensibilities and deep Orlando pedigree (New Mexican Disaster Squad, Racin for Pinks, the F-Pipes, etc.). They’re not a particularly active band, though there are signs that may change soon. After the solid set they delivered, we should all hope so.
Grave Return at House of Blues - JEN CRAY
  • Jen Cray
  • Grave Return at House of Blues
Grave Return at House of Blues - JEN CRAY
  • Jen Cray
  • Grave Return at House of Blues
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This Little Underground is Orlando Weekly's music column providing perspective, live reviews and news on the city's music scene.

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Email Bao: baolehuu@orlandoweekly.com


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