The Damned + The Rezillos + TV Smith & The bored Teenagers + Smalltown Tigers
@ Eventim Apollo, London
29th October 2022
Review and Photography by Graham Hilling
It’s early doors this evening at the Eventim Apollo in Hammersmith in order to fit the 4 bands playing tonight. This means that openers Smalltown Tigers are playing to a pretty sparse crowd (at least at the beginning of their set).
This is 3 piece all female band from Italy, playing garage punk – while there is nothing to immediately set the world on fire, they roll through a set of engaging and snappy songs and do a fine job of warming the crowd up.
Many of the songs are growers and need a few more listens to make an impact on my brain so will need to keep an eye out for a return visit.
As is typical for an opening band, their set is short, with them barely playing for 25 minutes, however, they are well received and no doubt make a few new friends. I get the feeling they would be more at home in a smaller venue as they do look a little lost on the substantial stage at the Apollo.
Next up is something I’m really looking forward to – TV Smith and the Bored Teenagers. TV Smith and company playing some absolute classic Adverts songs.
Starting with “No Time to be 21” see TV Smith throwing himself around the stage with boundless energy. Indeed this is kept up throughout the set, so much so I feel knackered by the end of it!
There are no gaps between the songs, everything is executed perfectly and at breakneck speed. The whole performance is a massive trek down memory lane, a precursor for what is to come later.
“On Wheels” has everyone singing along, followed by “Bombsite Boy”, another cracking sing-along track. Every track this evening is actually a sing-along fest really, they all have killer choruses and the audience seem to know all of the lyrics (they even start flooding back to my addled brain as well).
“Gary Gilmores Eyes” just carries this trend on. By the time we get to the end of the set with “One Chord Wonders” what feels like everyone in the audience is singling along – “….the wonders don’t care!!”
TV Smith has a great voice and sings with passion – this is a top notch performance in my book, playing a set of songs taking us back in time to the late 70’s. Bit of a shame we’re not played anything from the second album (which is also chocked full of great songs) but I completely understand the reasoning behind this as the second album took a very different direction.
No Time to Be 21
Safety in Numbers
We Who Wait
On the Roof
Great British Mistake
Gary Gilmores Eyes
One Chord Wonders
Next up this evening are another classic band from the old school punk period – The Rezillos.
This is not a band I was particularly familiar with back in the day, but once they start playing songs like “Top of the Pops” and “Flying Saucer Attack”, the memories come flooding back so they must have made an impression in my subconscious!
Founding members Eugene Reynolds and Faye Fife look pretty happy to be on the stage tonight, Reynolds sporting his trademark quiff and wraparound shades and Fife in a splendid multicoloured dress.
Their music has more in common with the likes of the B-52s than the sneering UK punk scene from 70’s but (for those of us old enough!) it still takes you on a rather nostalgic journey into the past.
Fife quips that “Sorry About Tomorrow” is especially for the women in the audience, saying …never say sorry as it is never your fault!
A lively performance ensues but it is a pretty short set in order to fit the 4 bands in this evening. The set concludes with “Somebody’s Gonna Get Their Head Kicked in Tonight” and The Rezillos leave the stage to much applause. The scene is set for the highlight of the evening.
Flying Saucer Attack
Do the Mutilation
Sorry About Tomorrow
Top of the Pops
20000 Rezillos Under the Sea?
(My Baby Does) Good Sculptures
Somebody’s Gonna Get Their Head Kicked in Tonight
Closing off the evening and the reason why most of us are here this evening are The Damned, the original lineup, playing classics from the first two albums plus selected other rareties!
Scabies takes to the stage first, to much applause, and takes a big bow from behind his kit (which is dressed with cobwebs and sports a bass drum skin looking the original from the 70’s). He is clearly happy to be back performing with his old bandmates.
Next on is Sensible, looking, well, quite sensible for him. Then Brian James is helped onto the stage, clearly he is not a well man at the moment. He actually remains rooted to the spot near the back of the stage by the amps for the duration of the set.
Last but not least, Vanian bounds onto the stage and we’re off on a trip back in time. Despite James looking poorly, he still manages to knock out the guitar riffs with some style. Vanian and Sensible make up for his lack of movement with a vigorous performance that sees both stomping around the stage. Vanian in particular is very animated, sportng black lipstick and a whitened face.
Starting with “I Fall”, it is clear that there is going to be no messing around tonight (which normally typifies most Damned gigs) and that we’re likely to see a set played at breakneck speed without many interruptions.
The set bounces between the first two albums and the band sound pretty tight. “Help” sees everyone singing along and then the classic Damned tracks just roll off of the conveyor belt – “Born to Kill”, “Stretcher Case”, “I Fall”. “Feel the Pain” slows things down briefly.
“Fan Club” is another chance for audience participation with its infectious chorus. Despite much of the crowd belonging to the original punk generation there is still a bit of friendly moshing at the front. Indeed, the whole atmosphere this evening is one of belonging and friendly camaraderie. Great to see.
Vanian continues to run around the stage, clearly enjoying himself and Sensible, while less vocal than normal, also seems to be having a good time, playing a violin style Epiphone bass (think Paul McCartney style).
Scabies is also on form, and I’m surprised the jokey chants of “Scabies is a Wanker” are nowhere to be seen – these were a regular item in the past, maybe the audience has matured and is now just pleased to see him behind the kit again.
Sensible complains about a review in the Telegraph from the gig the night before where words like cacophony, amateurish and chaotic were used; he concludes his tirade by saying clearly they clearly went to the wrong show and the familiar bass line of “Neat Neat Neat” echoes around the venue.
“You Know” sees the band joined by Mike Smith on sax, “So Messed Up” finishes up the set in some style. After a brief pause, they’re back on the stage to run through the inevitable “New Rose”. The last two songs are covers, finishing with “The Last Time” by the Stones. Let’s hope this is not prophetic!
Sensible ends the set by destroying his bass in classic style by smacking it into the stage until the neck breaks off. I’m kind of expecting Scabies to do the same to the kit but this never happens.
So, a cracking gig with some class acts from the punk era, The Damned never disappoint and there’s no change on that front tonight. I can’t help missing the classic songs from the later period – “Love Song”, “Smash It Up” and “I Just Can’t be Happy” was when I started my love affair with this band but I’ll have to wait for the next live outing for these I think!
I Feel Alright
You Take My Money
Born to Kill
Stretcher Case Baby
Feel the Pain
1 of the 2
Neat Neat Neat
Stab Yor Back
Sick of Being Sick
See Her Tonite
So Messed Up
The Last Time