After the horrible adventure with my glasses, I wandered around PunkSpring 09 just taking in some of the sights and sounds. Some of the bands that I caught included 9mm Parabellum Bullet, Rise Against, Bad Religion, and several others that I have no idea what they were because I don’t read Japanese. Most of the bands I saw were alright, but nothing that I particularly would go out of my way to see.
There was one band that I absolutely wanted to see, and one of the major reasons that I allowed myself to get talked into traveling halfway across the world for a concert – The Damned. Every time I have had the chance to see this venerable punk bank, events have conspired to prevent me from doing so. This was one of the original punk bands, and a band I am particularly fond of. Never having seen them live, I was quite eager to see their set.
A few days before PunkSpring 09 the picture of The Damned was taken down from the event’s website, and something in Japanese was placed up in the news section. The band, however, was still listed in the schedule. It was too late anyway, I was already in Japan so it wasn’t like I wouldn’t attend PunkSpring 09 if The Damned weren’t going to play. I was, however, a bit concerned as to what I would be seeing.
The Damned took the stage fronted by longtime member and co-founder Captain Sensible. The band’s regular drummer, bassist and keyboard players were also present – though it should be noted that they are replacements for original members (or even replacements of replacements). I was rather surprised when Captain Sensible started to belt out the tunes himself, though the band was tight and the music enjoyable, so I was able to have fun along with the rest of the crowd.
At one point during the set, Captain Sensible said that Dave Vanian was back home with some family problems, but wouldn’t elaborate any further than that. After I returned home I scoured the band’s official website and other music news outlets to see if there was anything more I could find, but no.
It was an interesting set, with plenty of hits from throughout the band’s over 30 year career. The biggest chart success The Damned ever produced as “Alone Again Or”, a rather out of character pop ballad, and naturally that was getting a big reaction from the crowd. This proved, however, to be the weak point of the otherwise strong set, because Captain Sensible simply couldn’t play the guitar parts correctly. He also messed up the words and had to resort to singing the signature trumpet line towards the end of the song, despite the fact that there was a keyboard player on stage apparently doing not much of anything.
Did I see The Damned at PunkSpring 09? Well, yes and no. Technically I did see the band. Personally, however, I feel that I didn’t. I know that much of the original lineup is gone, but the combination of Dave Vanian and Captain Sensible are today’s Damned (along with longtime members Pinch, Monty Oxy Moron and Stu West). I felt that I was watching a Captain Sensible solo show instead of The Damned. I would like to see a full band show – maybe next time.