Review: The Damned @ The Tivoli (Brisbane)

The Damned played The Tivoli (Brisbane) on 20 March, 2024 - image © Clea-marie Thorne
With an insatiable passion for live music and photography adventures, this mistress of gig chronicles loves the realms of metal and blues but wanders all musical frontiers and paints you vibrant landscapes through words and pics (@lilmissterror) that share the very essence of her sonic journeys with you.

The Damned have become progressively more venerated since starting out in the late '70s.

I love how over the decades these punk rockers have meandered musically through the realms of goth, pop-rock, new wave, post-punk, psychedelia and whatever else they feel fits at the time yet still manage to make it all sound (The) Damned delicious – even their covers has the flavour of their stylised sound.

Their vast catalogue curated over the years has resulted in a kaleidoscope of tunes blending genres in their compositions that has brought this vibrant sea of battle jackets adorned with patches and some with safety pins, ripped jeans and band t-shirts.

Tattoos and piercings are abundant, but not overwhelming so for this eclectic crowd and I spy a few gravity-defying mohawks and fluro heads of hair that adds an edginess to the punter vibe inside The Tivoli (20 March).

Speaking of nostalgia, who better to get the blood pumping than Australia's own hard-core punk icons, The Hard-Ons. What a bonus this is for the punters! I'm more than little stoked to say the least.

This four-piece have had a few line-up changes and a disbandment since starting out as the Dead Rats in '81 then a brief stint as the Plebs before finally landing on the Hard-Ons in '82. Tonight, The Hard-Ons are OG Peter 'Blackie' Black (guitar) with longtime serving member Ray Ahn (bass), Murray Ruse (drums) and most recent member, Tim Rogers (vocals).

The Hard Ons
The Hard-Ons - image © Clea-marie Thorne

Wandering onstage like they're jumping up for jam session among mates, 'Apartment For Two' is the opening song as fans release their pent-up excitement through their vocal cords. I'm entranced by thrash punk rock at it's finest.

Rogers is looking wild and pretty punked baring his chest like his fellow band members (and like he is want to do anyway). He also manages to ham it up to the crowd sliding down the mic, rotating his hips – he is simply a frontman of many masks, but forever one of Australia's most engaging frontmen.

My eyes are also darting back and forth as I watch energetic and frantic stage antics of Blackie and Anh. Brutally slaying on their axes with hair whipping this way and that. All the while Ruse is hitting the tubs vigorously like a savage pent-up beast, he is just cutting sick banging on the drum heads while we bang ours.

The scene is set and 'Punk Police' leads us through the sonic agitator of belting and thrashing tunes thrown down by The Hard-ons. The lads are dropping newer tracks in amongst older material, many found on 'Ripper '23'.

The Hard Ons.2
The Hard-Ons - image © Clea-marie Thorne

Careening through their set, bodies sway and collide in the pit where moshing is in constant motion. The energy and the atmosphere is electric, fuelled by the frenetic beats and impassioned lyrics blasting from the stage.

Rogers continues to take sideways glances at Blackie. Tim seems as joyous as a kid on Christmas Day. He even tells us in a voice of genuine admiration that Peter Black "is the hardest songwriter in the world". Rogers cannot hide his thrill at being in his favourite band while they reciprocally seem to dig his foot-stomping, hip-gyrating, arm-styling rockstar swagger at the front of the party – along with a voice that he magically adapts to suit the music.

Never been to a Hard-Ons show or it's been awhile? You should really get along and see a show yourself; I copped an earful at Uncaged a while back and it is even better tonight. The Hard-ons sure dole out a fast and frantic set and put our adrenal glands on high alert. Leaving the stage with a bellowing applause, the packed house is left to chatter about how bloody good it was.

The lights are dimming. The Damned are taking to the stage that is sliced up with streaming lights, one by one. We see Monty Oxymoron (keys) stride by in a suit of black and white – the print is skulls of course! Paul Gray (bass) and Rat Scabies (drums) have pretty much ordinary attire in comparison.

However, never to be outdone are the two polar opposites out front. Captain Sensible exudes vivid boldness in red beret and neat shirt; while the last one to the stage, both in his attire and personality Dave Vanian channels the essence of a Victorian magician, cloaked in a monochrome palette and exuding a heady aura that is reminiscent of old-school theatrical goth-glam not unlike Bela Lugosi in a Hammer horror film.

The Damned.2
The Damned - image © Clea-marie Thorne

To take lyrics from their opening song, Captain Sensible and Vanian are the fuse to 'Ignite' the latent chemistry between them and the rest of the band: Gray, Monty Oxymoron and Rat Scabies. The Damned are looking like they are set to get my heart "beat, beat, beating like a drum," that is going to ensure "we're gonna have some fun tonight".

'Ignite' is abruptly followed by 'Wait For The Blackout' from 'The Black Album'. 'Gun Fury' then comes before the pensive surge of 'Melody Lee', which sets us off in fits of elation – crazy to think this particular pioneering punk masterpiece was inspired by a comic.

The alt-rock catchy lyrics of 'Generals' has fans singing along loudly and continues with some foot stomping to the swaggering of another fan favourite 'Stranger On The Town'.

The Damned.3
The Damned - image © Clea-marie Thorne

'Plan 9 Channel 7', the rocking 'Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde', and 'Life Goes On' come next and as the vibrations of each song pulses through the venue, chants and soaring voices fill the air, echoing the sentiments of punk rebellion, alive and kicking in Brisbane tonight, yeah!

'Beware Of The Clown' has Captain Sensible and Vain goofing around some more, and this time they're sharing a red clown nose as they work through the song and encourage our participation which really isn't necessary – we are well into it!

The Damned launch into their cover 'Eloise', a 1968 power-pop hit written by Paul Ryan and performed by his twin brother Barry Ryan. Punters are a little nostalgic for this super-sweet melody.

The Damned.4
The Damned - image © Clea-marie Thorne

Hollers erupt for 'The Shadow Of Love' and it amplifies the vibe in the room. This elated mood is sustained by 'Dozen Girls' and jokes from the band that punters wearing purple underwear should be named and shamed.

'Fan Club' is played ahead of another more recent track 'The Invisible Man' from the 'Darkadelic' world of The Damned. This psych-rock vibe is dialling it up a notch. An oldie but goodie 'Noise, Noise, Noise' dialled it up two more.

'Love Song' from the 1979 album 'Machine Gun Etiquette' has Gray dropping the bomb bassline and an intro that just makes you want to flip your head, teasing and spraying a cranking mohawk!

The Damned.5
The Damned - image © Clea-marie Thorne

'Second Time Around' follows and is backed up by 'Neat Neat Neat' – Captain Sensible's garb reflecting the song title. Man! Fans lose their sh.t to the big banger 'Smash It Up' shouting out the lyrics with raucous, hoarse voices filled with passion and fervour.

At the end of their set we get a good eyeballing as Captain Sensible yells at us: "We still got it, you bastards! And so do you!" before leaving the stage to huge roars and clapping.

Encore calls and chanting ensue. We realise 'Curtain Call' is not the final bow of our punk music icons, but it features Vanian tossing a couple of roses into the crowd before throwing the whole bunch into the hands of hungry fans.

It's no surprise the frenetic havoc that comes after that display is soundtracked to 'New Rose', their first single released in 1976. Captain Sensible is on fire up there. If he's not shredding on one of his guitars, he's flinging it and his legs around like he's made of rubber. I tell you; his red beret must be hiding an energy source that is keeping him pumped up.

Maybe there's something to the red beret as I see one fly onstage. Someone calls for it back and Captain Sensible is pretending to the be an old man with a bad back. He melodramatically lowers himself slowly to pick it up and smiles. He's just about to fling it back when he fake blows his nose on it, then wipes it up and down his bum before tossing it back to its owner. We all roar at his antics.

The Damned.6
The Damned - image © Clea-marie Thorne

Thinking the show is over, some punters took leave, but we called and called and the ending wasn't the end. Still feeling exhilaration in the room, the band returned to the stage and what better way to officially end the night than with another (The) Damned fine cover?

'Looking At You' (MC5 cover) has us looking at the band that is, after 20-plus songs, closing in a blaze of punk history and is nothing short of blistering!

Finally bidding the legends farewell bodies surged out into the night propelled by a post-gig euphoria that was indeed a celebration of the enduring music and unique performances of The Damned that have been enmeshed in our lives and catalyst for evoking unforgettable memories.

Punk's not dead, it can't be! Forever is the legacy of The Damned. Maximum respect to one of the last bands standing from those thriving on the scene in '76.

More photos from the show.

Let's Socialise

Facebook pink circle    Instagram pink circle    YouTube pink circle    YouTube pink circle

 OG    NAT

Twitter pink circle    Twitter pink circle