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The Damned / GBH

Stadt / City Helsinki 
Land / Country FIN 
Datum / Date14.07.2011 

Actually I don`t care a fig about Punk, but somehow there is always one punk concert per summer in Helsinki that makes it into my schedule. This year, it`s The Damned, for an obvious reason: As huge fans of Michael Monroe and his brilliant coverversions of "Love Song" / "Machine Gun Etiquette", we wanted to witness how those songs are presented by the originals. Due to a certain TV appearance on German television in the year 1979 (which can be admired on youtube and shows singer Dave Vanian in Bela Lugosi style and guitarist Captain Sensible in a pink-blue flokati outfit), we expected also an entertaining stage show...

But first of all, the support act GBH enters the stage. Coming from Birmingham / UK, GBH are regarded as one of the founders of Hardcore Punk and as one of the most influential punk bands of all time. As I said, I`m not so skilled when it comes to punk, therefore I have never heard of GBH before, but the stage presence of frontman Collin Abrahall is going to change that fact soon. Not only his black leather jacket and blond spiky hair are reminiscent of a certain Billy Idol: Mister Abrahall came, saw and rocked - especially with his microphone stand - to songs like "Race Against Time", "Lycanthropy", "Time Bomb", "Maniac", "Drugs Party in 526", "Give Me Fire"... So that`s how Punk sounds if it`s fun and well-done. I think I saw and especially heard too many third-class punk bands in my life, in any case I am impressed by the powerful and intoxicating guitar riffs and also the performance, especially of the frontman, is convincing in all respects. Amongst others, he put an obviously very drunk concert attendee in his place repeatedly. Well, you have to expect that if you shout meaningless slogans like "Fuck the high street!" all the time. It`s not nice to shout at a band anyway, but in the end, the singer even comes down from the stage, to give the troublemaker a hug of reconciliation. Well, that`s brave...

"Brave" is also the right adjective for us: It`s brave of us to be at "Tavastia" tonight at all `cause it`s damn hot in the venue! Is the air conditioner broken?!?

There is a big confusion when The Damned enter the stage finally: Well, we didn`t expect necessarily that Dave Vanian jumps around in a Dracula costume or that Captain Sensible digs out his plush clothes. It just would have been the cherry on the cream. Apparelled with a striped pullover, Captain Sensible looks funny anyway. In contrast to Dave Vanian: In the meantime he has become a bit chubby and in his red suit, he looks like a Schlager singer who is getting a bit long in the tooth. Later on he will top that by wearing a western shirt. If we focus on the more important aspects such as the music and the performance, the cult band turns out to be a harsh disappointment once again. The music has not that much to do with Punk; it`s rather Wave. It doesn`t have to be a bad thing and personally I`m more into Wave than into Punk but after the wild Punk`n`Roll show of GBH, The Damned appear just lame. Also the stage show isn`t really dynamic: Dave Vanian has the charisma of a crooner while Captain Sensible - who seems to be responsible for the introductions of the songs and the interaction with the audience - will remain only funny in terms of his striped pullover. The apparently broken air conditioner at "Tavastia" and the questionable social behaviour of some concert guests, who spit randomly in the club, not only drag our mood down but also the one of Captain Sensible who is understandably very pissed off after someone has spit on his guitar. After songs like "Street Of Dreams", "I Just Can`t Be Happy Today", "New Rose", "Under The Floor Again" and "I Fall", the eagerly-awaited "Love Song" follows in the middle of the set. After 2 minutes and 21 seconds, the only highlight of the whole The Damned show is already over. We will wait for "Machine Gun Etiquette" till the bitter end - in vain...

Conclusion: Five points for GBH and two points for The Damned makes seven points in total. One day we can tell our grandchildren that we have seen the "Love Song" presented by the original composers but now, in the present, we are more impatient about visiting the next concert of Michael Monroe. It may be that Mister Glamrock was musically influenced by The Damned - but when it comes to stage action, the Brits can learn a lot from the Finn...


+ photos: Stefanie Singh

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