Gig Review: The Damned / Penetration / TV Smith and the Bored Teenagers / Smalltown Tigers – Manchester Apollo (3rd November 2022)

The Damned original line up was always set to be a massive reunion with so many quirky characters in one band. With its almost mini-festival vibe of four bands in one night, especially bands with such a wide musical range, there were many people extremely excited to begin their night. The queues snaked around the Apollo and attendees filled up the nearby pubs, spilling out into the streets.

TV Smith and the Bored Teenagers (c) Charlotte Emily

Opening the night were the fantastic Italian band, Smalltown Tigers, with punky riot grrl energy and rambunctious songs. Alongside their incredible stage presence they were a lot of fun and kicked off everything, their set interspersed with hair flicks and head banging a-plenty.

Next up were TV Smith and the Bored Teenagers who showed off their kicks, spins and dance moves throughout their set. They were anything but boring (or bored looking) with their old school punk songs including “Gary Gilmore’s Eyes” which had all the 70’s punk fans singing along.

Penetration swept the audience away, with quirky vocals reminiscent of Toyah. All eyes were on them. They aren’t a band I’m familiar with, but a quick check online informs me that they’re on a similar vintage to The Damned and very much deserved their status as main support.

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Taking up the headline slot were of course The Damned. In true original glory they played their first album Damned Damned Damned in full, including the groovy “Fan Club” and firm fan favourite “Neat Neat Neat”. The band were on incredible form, with Vanian’s vocals reverberating through the entire venue underpinned by the musicians and a surprise saxophonist!

Penetration (c) Charlotte Emily

The non-Damned Damned Damned tracks were all from the band’s second album, Music For Pleasure which makes sense as these two albums were the ones recorded by the four gents on stage in front of us. As such we were treated to a delightful set of fast, short punky numbers. The Damned grew and mutated over the years, but tonight’s set was pretty much pure punk – and there’s nothing wrong with that.

Given the size of the band and the album-honouring occasion, it was perhaps odd to hear a handful of covers throughout the set. But, hey, this is The Damned and they are out to entertain! Cramming The Beatles’ “Help” and The Stooges’ “1970” early in the main set, then “Pills” (Bo Diddley) and “The Last Time” (The Rolling Stones) into the three-song encore is the sign of a band that aren’t afraid of honouring their influences despite their own long-standing existence on the music scene.

It was a joy to be in The Damned’s presence and it was wonderful to witness just how much fun they were having. It wasn’t long before the entire room was bouncing with energy.

As always The Damned left stage leaving the fans buzzing and a fantastic night had!

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Pics by Charlotte Emily

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