Perfect Sunday, Here is a love song with The Damned with Suzi Moon and Vacation Review+Photos: The Damned, Suzi Moon & Vacation at Bogart's 8/28/22
CINCINNATI, OH- Ladies and gentlemen, how do!!!
What do you get when you mix punk rock legends, the rising punk rock queen, and an outfit of pure rock energy? You get a great Damned show!!!
It’s been a couple of years since I’ve been able to see The Damned live. It was 2019 at the Pacific Amphitheater in Costa Mesa, Ca, where they headlined an epic show with X and the Reverend Horton Heat as a stop in the “Machine Gun Etiquette” 40th-anniversary tour. A lot has changed since then. A Night of 1000 Vampires, which will be released as a cd/DVD soon. It also served as long-time drummer, Pinch’s last show with the band after 20 years. The world was shut down. The original 4 announced reunion shows were set originally for 2021 but were rescheduled to 2022. All was quiet for a while on The Damned front. Then, the announcement of Blondie’s “Against All Odds”.
Tour was announced with the band serving as support for them, sans the good Captain on the US dates.
The tour seemed to start off strong, with Queens of The Stone Age guitarist, Troy Van Leeuwen, filling in and Will Taylor on drums completing the lineup. COVID hit the band whilst out on the road tho, with a few dates missed. . My family and I moved to the east coast during this time, but after checking dates, saw there was a stop in Cincinnati. I was excited to be able to see them as Cincinnati is only 2 1/2 hours away from me. Then after the COVID incident, the Blondie date was canceled, which left my hopes to see them dashed.
But then, as part of the final leg of their support spot on Blondie’s The venerable band made a headlining stop at Bogart’s in The OTR (Over The Rhine) neighborhood in Cincinnati. So now that you’ve been caught up, on with the show.
One thing I love is being introduced to new music from an exciting live band with great music and a stage presence. Such was the case with Cincinnati’s “grout rock outfit,” Vacation. From start to finish, their set was a high-energy romp thru some great music. The band is comprised of Hey singer/guitarist Jerome Westerkamp, bassist Evan Wolfe, John Clooney on Drums (who sports a very nice Ludwig blue Vistalite kit, I inherited one from my late Grandfather to site the significance), and guitarist John Hoffman.
Now I don’t know much about the history of the band, but I can tell you what I witnessed. They opened their set with “Action Road,” “Sharptooth Tinsel Town” and “Charades.” They have a pretty extensive discography which can be accessed here at https://vacation.bandcamp.com/. The rest of their 7-song electric set included “Colored by Numbers,” “Ripe,” “Worlds in Motion” and “Luminary Jerry.” The band has everything you would want in a great rock show. They embark on an 18-date tour that will see them cross the nation beginning September 18 in Cincinnati and on into October 7th at the Roadrunner in St Louis, MO. You can find their itinerary on their official Instagram https://instagram.com/vacation_rnr. Check them out when they come near or to your city.
Another thing I love is a great opening act, especially when that opening act happens to be a friend of mine. Some include The Bellrays on their 40th-anniversary tour. The Darts on the Evil Spirits tour and on this night at Bogart’s, the punk rock powerhouse, Suzi Moon. I’ve been a fan of hers since I first saw her about 5 years ago in her band Turbulent Hearts. She has always impressed me with her balls-to-the-wall live shows and her aggressive yet vulnerable and well-written lyrics.
She’s the type of musician that leaves everything on stage. She’s raw and she’s wild.
Looking like a superhero in her all-red leather body suit and thigh-high boots. There was no posturing. She is the real deal; a punk rock sonic queen. Her band, affectionately dubbed The Moon Gang, by bassist Patti Bo (at least that’s where I first heard it), guitarist Drew Champion and drummer Neil Ganesha, compliment her well as they tear up the stage together. I love bands that interact with each other as well as their audience. They make the experience all the more real.
They opened with the title track of her soon-to-be-released LP, “Dumb + In Luv.” “Special Place in Hell,” off of her first singles EP, and “99 Miles to Pasadena.” Next on the list is my personal favorite, “I’m Not A Man,” which has this great groove to it. “Family Man,” “Gold Record Autograph” and “Sonic Attraction” followed. They closed their atomic set with the song “Animal” off of the singles Ep of the same name, which saw Suzi descend from the stage to the barrier as she Serenaded the crowd in an up close and personal way. Also turning to me and telling me I’m number one in the most affectionate way you can with a finger or as she called it “the finger of Love.” Hehe. What I have to say about Suzi Moon and the Moon Gang is this, go see them. Buy the ticket, buy the albums, you won’t be disappointed.
“Dumb and In Luv” drops on 9/23/22 Thru Pirate Press records and will be available on vinyl and all streaming platforms. They will be doing a 3-day stint with Teenage Bottlerocket at the end of September which coincides with the release date. They will be on tour with The Dead Boys and the Briefs through October and November, with an appearance at Punk in the Park in Orange County, California.
When it comes to The Damned and their live gigs are the equivalent of being reunited with old friends, even if you’re meeting them for the first time. There’s a sense of community, a familiar spirit that lives in fans of the band. So whilst We waited through the set change that also included some technical difficulties as the crew seemed to have to reset everything. We mingled.
Finally, the lights change, and out walls the band led by keyboardist and dancing maniac, Monty Oxymoron, followed by Paul Gray, Will Taylor, and Troy Van Leeuwen. As the lads walked onto the stage, they were greeted by a wildly enthused crowd. The openers served them well, and the energy in the venue had been well established. We were all ready to go.
The band begins to play “Thanks for the Night” with Dave Vanian slowly making his way from the side stage. It was on. An almost 2 hour set from the band that included a wide range of hits from their 40-plus-year history. And of course, that’s easy to do when you have 11 studio albums, 22 live albums, and various compilations and singles.
They followed up with “Plan 9 Channel 7,” and “Born to Kill.” As I made my way out of the photographer’s pit, they played “Street of Dreams” from “Phantasmagoria,” and “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.” I Made my way to the back of the club where I found an empty VIP area where I could watch the rest of the show. It’s a nice change of perspective to see the whole show. The way the band moves and the crowd swoons with each song.
The thing about a Damned show is that it’s always a career-spanning show. There are always the hits, the fan favorites, some deep cuts, and some covers and it always feels fresh and new. Their set was full of these as they went further into it. Their covers of Love’s “Alone Again Or” and Barry Ryan’s “Eloise” back to back and a cover of MC5’s “Looking at You” were all in the main set. They also included a cover of The Stooges’ “1970” in the Encore.
There were so many highlights during this show, one of which, for me, was the inclusion of “Absinthe” and “Black Is the Night.” Of course, there were the staples like “New Rose,” “Smash it Up,” “Neat, Neat, Neat,” and from recent years, “Standing on the Edge of Tomorrow” from the Evil Spirits album. The Encore was the Pinnacle which really brought the audience to a fever pitch with “Love Song,” “Machine Gun Etiquette” and closing with “Nasty.”
The Damned never disappoints. In my years of experience, I have never been to a bad gig with this band. There has yet to be a show where I have spoken to someone who has been disappointed with the show. This evening was no exception. The Damned is a band that brings people together. From Punks to Goths, aged and young, old fans who bring new fans. It always feels great. It always feels like a Damned family reunion. This perfect Sunday was, for lack of a better term, a love song from The Damned to the fans.
The future looks bright for the band as the original 4 are set to do some reunion shows in the UK in October. There’s a new album due in early 2023 with the current lineup. Night of 1000 Vampires is due for release in October as well. With 40-plus years under their belts, there is no indication of them slowing down anytime soon and I am Damned (corny) happy today.