The Damned – ‘Machine Gun Etiquette’ Anniversary Live Set

2 DVD, 1 CD set (Easy Action/AVF)

Something of a bumper compendium arranged around the Damned’s 2004, Machine Gun Etiquette 25th Anniversary Reissue tour, this package contains a 20-track live set filmed at the Manchester Academy, an immense second disc of bonus extras and a CD containing selected tracks from the aforementioned gig.

Of course, purists will always point out that only Sensible and Vanian survive from the original line-up, but given that Brian James was long gone by the time Machine Gun Etiquette hit shelves in 1979, we’re pretty much only missing Rat here (especially when you consider that the bass player position was something of a revolving door).

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Indeed, time and an ideology that was predicated upon nothing more worthy than having a good time has stood the Damned in good stead. Whereas the lack of any kind of political standpoint saw the band dismissed as lightweights during the punk wars, it also ensured that the group’s material isn’t unduly dated by lyrics aimed at Thatcher, Reagan, or other popular targets of the era.

What the Damned represent, both here on this collection and to this day live, is a good night out. They’re not gonna change the system, you’re not gonna change the system, we’re not gonna change the system, but we can all have a knees-up just the same. The finely honed set from Manchester bears this out – in the fourth decade of their tenures with the band, the sense of enjoyment emanating from both principles is evident, and as the Captain observes, ‘What could be more important than seeing your old mates, the Damned?’

That said, we’re none of us as young as we used to be, and while the pit in front of the group responds enthusiastically to classics such as ‘New Rose’ and ‘Love Song’, it’s amusing to see how many times they collectively run out of pogo-power before the first verse has finished. What appears to be clouds of dry ice during ‘Curtain Call’ could well be ambient Ventolin rolling in from the wheezy throng. Certainly, Vanian and Sensible appear to have worn better than much of their tubby, balding audience.

Fittingly, the set list opens with four tracks from the group’s third album, before hitting a storming rendition of ‘New Rose’. This is a tight set – the band’s togetherness is particularly evident by the way in which they flawlessly negotiate the live complexities of ‘History of the World (Part 1)’. After an extended freakout version of ‘Looking At You’, some momentum is lost by a run of five post-heyday numbers, although these do include the crowd-pleasing ‘Eloise’. ‘Melody Lee’ returns us to Etiquette, before ‘Neat Neat Neat’ enjoys a wander into the Doors’ ‘Break On Through’, to close the set.

Aside from a slightly leaden ‘Jet Boy, Jet Girl’, the encore is suitably hi-octane, with ‘Curtain Call’ (dedicated here to the recently departed John Peel) being particularly expansive. As ever, the Damned end with ‘Smash It Up’ as drummer Pinch’s kit bites the dust. The bulk of the focus of attention is rightfully carried by Sensible and Vanian, and the rhythm section backs them up with unobtrusive precision. Depending on your appetite for ‘zaniness’, keyboard player Monty Oxymoron is either amusing or annoying. He seems harmless enough.

The second disc is a grab bag of all sorts; historical artefacts such as a rendition of ‘I Fall’ from the Brian James era and footage of Sensible and Scabies capering with The Clash and Guy Stevens from the same batch of film that appeared on the remastered London Calling. There’s also another extensive live set from Japan’s Summersonic Festival 2004, which features a blistering version of ‘Just Can’t Be Happy’ and ends with Sensible’s knackers on display as he throws his trolleys to the crowd. From the same period, there’s an ‘on the road’ feature shot in England and Japan wherein the Captain reminisces about marauding Lincolnshire arm-wrestlers and presides over all manner of backstage tomfoolery.

An earlier incarnation of the group is captured for some Californian footage dating from 2000-01, and there’s also film of the group playing with assorted Dickies at the Alabama Fiendfest. The Captain contributes some home movies of a visit to Berlin to record a new version of his ‘disco smash’ ‘Wot’, we meet bassist Stu at home in drag, learn cocktail making with pinch and get a roadie’s perspective of working under Sensible. There’s a lot here – as the former Mr Burns asserts, ‘Who’d have thought it’d have gone on this long’.

To order the Box Set direct, click HERE

Originally posted 2011-06-23 08:03:56. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

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