The Damned Showcase DARKADELIC At Ally Pally Theatre

The Nightingales are a post-punk band hailing from Birmingham who date back to 1979, although largely inactive for the 1990s they reformed in 2004 and have since been more active than ever accruing a slew of releases, both of the single and album variety. Singer Robert Lloyd, the only constant member of the band, at times triggers parallels with PIL era John Lyndon with his slightly dissonant style of singing. However, there is no doubting their popularity with the assembled, as each song seemingly elicits a louder round of applause than the previous one. Centre stage, both literally and figuratively is the tom-tom heavy drumming of the fabulous, ex-Violet Violet Fliss Kitson who rather resembles, aurally, Meg White on steroids. Indeed, I had to do a Google search just to confirm that it was not the erstwhile White Stripe atop the drum throne. Flanked left and right by bassist Andreas Schmid and guitarist James Smith respectively there was no doubting the musical pedigree of the Nightingales, who were certainly a new one for my musical notebook, but I‘m sure that they have not made their last entry.

The Nightingales @ Alexandra Palace

The Nightingales @ Alexandra Palace, 20/04/23, Rockshot Magazine, Pauline Di S.
The Nightingales @ Alexandra Palace, 20/04/23, Rockshot Magazine, Pauline Di S.

To the main act: The Damned. Taking to the stage are: the king of the keyboards, mad professor lookalike, Monty Oxymoron, new-man behind the kit Will Taylor, who it must be said doesn’t put a stick wrong all night, the slender man in the black beret on the Rickenbacker bass Paul Gray, the unmistakable figure, in Denis the Menace t-shirt and red beret, Captain Sensible and the evermore dapper Dave Vanian tonight clad in suit and tie, black leather gloves, sunglasses and fedora, rather resembling the cover of HG Wells 1897 classic The Invisible Man.

The Damned @ Alexandra Palace

The Damned @ Alexandra Palace - 2023-04-20, Rockshot Magazine, Pauline Di S.
The Damned @ Alexandra Palace - 2023-04-20, Rockshot Magazine, Pauline Di S.

And make no mistake that this was the 2023 incarnation of the band. Anyone here expecting a repeat of last year’s nostalgia-laced 1977 act would, barring a handful of numbers towards the tail-end of the set have been disappointed. This was a band very much touting its latest work in the form of DARKADELIC which will be released any day now.

The Damned @ Alexandra Palace

The Damned @ Alexandra Palace, 20/04/23, Rockshot Magazine, Pauline Di S.
The Damned @ Alexandra Palace, 20/04/23, Rockshot Magazine, Pauline Di S.

Opening with the towering Street Of Dreams taken from 1985’s Phantasmagoria, before launching into the new single Invisible Man from the imminent DARKADELIC. It’s a brooding song with atmospheric keyboard and nice wah solo courtesy of the superb Captain Sensible. Next was the anthemic Wait For The Blackout from 1980’s the Black Album, followed by Lively Arts from the same album. Then the band switched to giving a proper airing to the new album – and it’s a goodie! Bad Weather Girl, You’re Gonna Realise, which features a sublime vocal from Mr. Vanian whose vocals are impeccable throughout, and Western Promise with its psychedelic feel, present a rich triumvirate of new songs from new album.

The Damned @ Alexandra Palace

The Damned @ Alexandra Palace, 20/04/23, Rockshot Magazine, Pauline Di S.
The Damned @ Alexandra Palace, 20/04/23, Rockshot Magazine, Pauline Di S.

Beware Of The Clown is perhaps the band’s most overtly political song yet reminding the listeners about the perils of Prime Ministers Boris Johnson and Liz Truss. It is a real rocker and injects considerable bite into the live set. The pacey Wake The Dead, Follow Me, which is about social media, and Motorcycle Man which probably derives from Dave’s own love of motorcycles, Leader Of The Gang are also all taken from DARKADELIC.

The Damned @ Alexandra Palace

The Damned @ Alexandra Palace, 20/04/23, Rockshot Magazine, Pauline Di S.
The Damned @ Alexandra Palace, 20/04/23, Rockshot Magazine, Pauline Di S.

Before Born To Kill, the first track this evening from the band’s debut classic of 1977. Then its straight back to the incoming new LP with From Your Lips, followed by the brilliant Love Song from 1979’s Machine Gun Etiquette and Second Time Around from 1980’s Black Album.

The Damned @ Alexandra Palace

The Damned @ Alexandra Palace, 20/04/23, Rockshot Magazine, Pauline Di S.
The Damned @ Alexandra Palace, 20/04/23, Rockshot Magazine, Pauline Di S.

The dark Standing On The Edge of Tomorrow from 2018’s Evil Spirits brings the set to a close. Encores of the imperious Eloise from 1986’s Anything, Neat, Neat, Neat from the first album, of course, and Smash It Up (Parts 1&2) from the superb Machine Gun Etiquette, replete with excoriating guitar lines courtesy of the Captain, conclude a fabulous performance by a band that ought to be at the tail end of their career but who instead are enjoying a purple patch of well-deserved adulation.

The Damned @ Alexandra Palace

The Damned @ Alexandra Palace, 20/04/23, Rockshot Magazine, Pauline Di S.
The Damned @ Alexandra Palace, 20/04/23, Rockshot Magazine, Pauline Di S.

Some 10 years ago The Damned played to an audience of fewer than 20 people at the Ink Fest weekender, last year they sold out the Hammersmith Apollo for the one-off reunion tour. Now they are packing out the Ally Pally Theatre, with a second date added and with a new album about to be released the band is enjoying a new generation of support which will also include a swing by Worthy Farm for this June’s Glastonbury Festival.

The Damned @ Alexandra Palace

The Damned @ Alexandra Palace, 20/04/23, Rockshot Magazine, Pauline Di S.
The Damned @ Alexandra Palace, 20/04/23, Rockshot Magazine, Pauline Di S.

Because, without doubt, whilst the bulk of the audience was what we might term ‘legacy punters’ a significant portion was composed of a much younger demographic. Despite the band’s album title, their future looks bright.

The Damned @ Alexandra Palace

The Damned @ Alexandra Palace, 20/04/23, Rockshot Magazine, Pauline Di S.
The Damned @ Alexandra Palace, 20/04/23, Rockshot Magazine, Pauline Di S.

Live review and photography The Damned @ Alexandra Palace Theatre on 20th April 2023 by Nick Kemp. Photography by Pauline Di Silvestro.

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