In the summer of 1976 I’m guessing that many of the early punk gigs took place in sweltering heat. Not so for the Bristol leg of the 40th anniversary tour of The Damned. Seeing them in sub-zero temperature I have never been so cold. The Motion nightclub closely resembles what I imagine to be a Gulag experience. But it was kind of fitting for the occasion, seeing Dave Vanian in his Dracula garb prowling around the stage and members of the audience breathing out mist.
There’s also a lot of what I would describe as punk vintage in attendance, who are on the whole surprisingly urbane, and I forgive the few who do push rudely to the front as jumping up and down in a frenzy is one option for keeping warm. And Motion does work in a way for this gig; squashed and often scarily intimate. Captain Sensible revels in this setup, addressing his audience often and even offering the mike stand at one point.
With Vanian being the more reticent of the two (like the Buzzcocks who are doing a similar anniversary thing, The Damned only retain guitarist – although original bassist in actuality – and lead vocalist from their first line up), it is Sensible who acts as spokesman for the band. When they enter to a background of Emerson, Lake and Palmer’s Fanfare for the Common Man he barks “turn that shit off!” Although the man next to me who’s been dancing to it has clearly missed the irony. It’s clear from the outset that they have retained their sense of humour. They have also kept their cartoonish aspect, and Sensible with his trademark red beret is a strange offset to Vanian.
The Damned launch into a full set of their debut album. Neat Neat Neat, I Fall, Born to Kill and all the rest of it. It’s superb, and obviously over in half an hour or so. What struck me, during the Damned, Damned, Damned set and later, is what a fine guitarist Sensible is. He does slip into guitar rock cliches from time to time but it’s welcome, although this does take the edge off his ELP antagonism. A strange mixture of styles unfolds during the rest of the set, which demonstrates the various flavours of the Damned that followed over the decades after their 1977 album, including an excellent version of Jefferson Airplane’s White Rabbit.
Sensible and Vanian, now in their early 60s, look remarkably well. They fared better than I did, and I slid away before the end of the evening giving up against the cold. But all in all seeing the Damned in concert was a better alternative for marking the occasion than setting light to my collection of punk memorabilia. And with only a handful of 7 inch singles to my name, it wouldn’t have kept me warm.
Location to view: by the door.
* if you were expecting 2016 in Concert Part Two I have simply got ahead of myself and this instalment will follow.
Between now and the end of the year a run down of the best concerts I’ve attended in 2016. Clips are provided where available, but don’t really do justice. I’m in one of these videos by the way, but I’m not telling you which one.
John Grant, BBC 6 Music Festival, Colston Hall Bristol, February
In February BBC 6 Music succeeded in squeezing more people into the Colston Hall than I thought ever possible. The bill included Guy Garvey and Julia Holter, although the act who totally nailed proceedings was John Grant. The highlight was his duet with Jimi Goodwin from Doves. Popping over the road to catch the Buzzcocks at the O2, I missed Laura Marling, but more of her later.
Location to view: back stalls for Guy Garvey, balcony for Julia Holter, down at the front for John Grant. For Buzzcocks, bar area.
The Wonder Stuff, O2 Academy Bristol, March
I’d actually bought a ticket because I wanted to see the support band, The Wedding Present, for the first time since 1988 when they played at The Fridge in Brixton. But sadly they were a bit lacklustre, but I’m glad to have caught The Wonder Stuff again (the first time since about 1989 I think). I’d forgotten about what a good front man they have in Miles Hunt, and Erika Nockalls has made a fine more recent addition to the line up.
Location to view: bar area.
Joanne Shaw Taylor, O2 Academy Bristol, April
I last saw Wilko Johnson in 1990 at the Brixton Academy supporting Ian Dury and the Blockheads. So it’s nicely fitting that the support act on this occasion was also the more memorable and the one hour set from Joanne Shaw Taylor was captivating.
Location to view: bar area.
New Order, Teenage Cancer Trust, Royal Albert Hall London, April
Finally, after never seeing them live before. The Teenage Cancer trust concerts at the Albert Hall have become a regular fixture for me. Last year I saw Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds and I have tickets for The Who next year. New Order filled two hours with a mixture of their back catalogue, which includes Joy Division songs, and their most recent album Music Complete.
Thanks to the Horror Channel for reviving interest in the hugely enjoyable 1976 film Satan’s Slave.
So. Catherine Yorke (Candace Glendenning) leaves London with her parents to visit her mysterious uncle Alexander (Michael Gough) in his large country house. But the drive ends in tragedy when Catherine’s parents appear to die in a freak car accident just as they’ve turned into Alexander’s drive.
She’s then taken in by Alexander, his son Stephen (Martin Potter, seen up to no good in the opening scene of the film, in a sort of Ralph Bates role) and a woman called Frances (Barbara Kellerman). Catherine recovers from her ordeal and begins to take an unwise shine to Stephen, but also starts to have terrible hallucinations. If this wasn’t enough, Frances tells of a plan to sacrifice her in order to avenge an ancient ancestor called Camilla who was said to possess evil powers. Indeed, they plan to use Camilla’s powers for Alexander’s own evil, a sacrificial surprise planned for her 20th birthday. Meanwhile, Catherine’s boyfriend in London (played by Ben from Doctor Who Michael Craze) is plagued by spells and leaps to his death from a tower block.
Stephen finds out of course and kills Frances; when Catherine discovers her dead body Stephen locks her away until the morning of the ritual. When they take her in the woods and prepare her, Catherine kills Stephen by stabbing him in the eye with a blade. She gets away but is then is tricked back into the clutches of her insane uncle by suddenly running into her father who leads her back into the evil…
You stabbed him right in the eye which went right through into his brain you clearly have some of Camilla in you already.
For a British horror film made in the 1970s and rarely seen on television, there’s a high level of blood and nudity. The IMDB provide a list plot keywords, including altar, reference to satan, cult, visions, exploding car, whipping and sex between cousins to help colour it in a bit more. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 7 featured fairly regularly in many British horror films of the 60s and 70s.
Satan’s Slave, also known as Evil Heritage, is reminiscent of Pete Walker’s British horror films of the 1970s, and that’s because it’s written by David McGillivray, who worked with Walker on four films including House of Whipcord (1974). It’s directed by Norman J. Warren, and I intend to seek out his films Prey (1977) and his other McGillivray collaboration, Terror (1978).
Michael Gough, who appeared in so many genre films it’s impossible to begin listing them, actually appears very little in Satan’s Slave, and it’s a shame especially as he’s groomed an excellent moustache for proceedings. Nevertheless, it joins the other top Gough films Trog (1970) and Horror Hospital (1973) for sheer camp. Candace Glendenning also has a Walker connection, appearing in the Flesh and Blood Show (1972). Curiously, she appeared in an episode of the children’s show Rainbow a year after Satan’s Slave was released.