THE fan who yelled at the top of his voice that “Sensible’s a w*****” might simply have been fulfilling a tradition where live concerts by first wave British punk outfit the Damned are concerned, with Captain Sensible himself – never less than a snot-nosed wind-up merchant in the group’s enduring incarnation – well used to fielding the slogan as it’s chanted in his face.
Rat Scabies and Brian James, Featuring Texas Terri
Pivo Pivo, Glasgow
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Yet in those words there was more than just a decades-old slogan being trotted out, more a statement that this group before us laid strongest claim to the soul of the UK’s first punk band.
Guitarist Brian James and drummer Rat Scabies (real name Chris Miller) haven’t been involved with the Damned since the early 1990s, but they’re both key members of the classic line-up and enough of a draw that Pivo Pivo’s low-ceilinged basement bar was rammed full of punks old and young for their return. The body of the set was an in-order run-through of the debut album Damned Damned Damned in honour of its 35th anniversary, but this was no nostalgia trip.
Scabies, James and their band played tracks like Neat Neat Neat, Feel the Pain and the Stooges homage I Feel Alright at ear-splitting volume, offering a conduit back to both the nihilist danger of punk’s early days and their spiritual forebears on the Detroit garage scene of the 60s. In this their secret weapon was “Texas” Terri Laird, a gangly, tattooed androgyne with a voice like a drill splitting cement and the same forceful, trashy sexuality as Iggy Pop. “You are the Damned,” screamed another thrilled acolyte, and the definitive finale of New Rose suggested he had a point.