CHICAGO, IL-  After over 40 years as a juggernaut entity in the punk rock world, The Damned has touched down on North American soil once again. This time, bringing the classic 1980-82 lineup featuring Dave Vanian on vocals, Captain Sensible on guitar, Paul Gray on bass, keyboardist Monty Oxymoron, and the return of the mighty Rat Scabies on drums. This lineup, which gave us back-to-back smash albums in “The Black Album” and “Strawberries,” is my favorite era of the band’s 45-year career. To me, it was worth the 7-hour drive from West Virginia to Chicago to partake in the festivities at the Concord Music Hall on June 2nd. Watching videos from the Australia tour heightened my resolve to be there. Thank you, modern technology.

The Damned is one of those bands that someone like me can never get enough of. No matter how many times you’ve seen them, it never feels like enough. They are not relegated to a nostalgia band as they are still releasing new music, like 2023’s “Darkadelic.” Yet, even the classic songs feel fresh every time. These men are adored by their fans and friends for their ever-welcoming and cheeky personalities, creating an atmosphere of community that has endured since the band’s beginning.

The Dictators at Concord Music Hall 6/2/24. Photo by Michael Bunuan (@Michael_Bunuan_Photogrpahy) for www.BlurredCulture.com.
The Dictators at Concord Music Hall 6/2/24. Photo by Michael Bunuan (@Michael_Bunuan_Photogrpahy) for www.BlurredCulture.com.

The night was kicked off with an energetic set from The Dictators. The New York band, formed in the 70s, is currently led by founding members Andy Shernoff (bass) and Ross “The Boss” Friedman (lead guitar). Rounded out by legendary Blue Oyster Cult and cowbell enthusiast Albert Bouchard on drums, who took the lead vocal on a cover of BOC’s “Dominance and Submission,” and new vocalist/guitarist Keith Roth, who stepped in to replace “Handsome” Dick Manitoba when the band reunited in 2021.

The band’s set was a hodgepodge of songs from over their career, though the lion’s share came from their 2001 album, “D.F.F.F.” Songs like “Pussy and Money,” “It’s Alright,” “The Savage Beat,” and “Who Will Save Rock and Roll?” fit well with selections from their 1978 album “Blood Brothers.” The band played well together, and Roth, despite some gatekeepers who can’t relinquish necessary changes in band lineups, sang well, owning the songs as if they were his own. It was loud and a bit raucous, which is something you want in a show that features only two bands. The Dictators’ 11-song set allowed audience members to appreciate this band, and I highly recommend catching them when the opportunity presents itself. Sadly, there are no current listings of upcoming shows, but keep a weathered eye out.

The Damned at Concord Music Hall 6/2/24. Photo by Michael Bunuan (@Michael_Bunuan_Photogrpahy) for www.BlurredCulture.com.
The Damned at Concord Music Hall 6/2/24. Photo by Michael Bunuan (@Michael_Bunuan_Photogrpahy) for www.BlurredCulture.com.

The energy in the room seemed to swirl in anticipation for The Damned to take the stage. I have seen them several times over the years and have made friends from all over the States and even internationally. I liken them to the Punk Rock Grateful Dead (minus all the acid), with their fans and followers who travel long distances to catch multiple stops on any given tour. Suffice it to say that Damned gigs feel like a reunion of friends, even when meeting fellow concert-goers for the first time.

One thing I absolutely adore about the band is their lack of pretense, as each member takes the stage one by one to the “Doctor Who” theme song. First, Monty Oxymoron, then Paul Gray, followed by Rat Scabies, who walked to the front of the stage to take his bow and greet the crowd. The Good Captain stepped up to the mic to address the crowd as they broke into “Ignite,” a fitting opening that set the pace for the night of fire and frivolity. Dave Vanian took the stage with fervor, leading the crowd in the first sing-along of the night.

The band seemed fully rejuvenated with Rat back on drums. Rat Scabies has always been one of my favorite drummers, punk or otherwise, partly because of his stage name but mostly due to his abilities as a drummer. He’s a busy jazz drummer in a punk rock world. The Damned seems all the more jovial, having him back in the fold, so much so that even “I Just Can’t Be Happy Today” took on a seemingly happier vibe than the title suggests. They’ve always put on a good show, but this tour, they seemed more cohesive. I can only imagine what it was like with this lineup back in the 80s. This was evident in their 22-song setlist. Dave Vanian delivered each song with ever-present, crooning vocals whilst looking quite dapper in his black suit and tie. It is evident that he is one of the best frontmen in the history of punk. Captain Sensible was his usual chatty self, exuding his charismatic personality while laying down his iconic guitar riffs throughout the song set. The silent bass master, Paul Gray, held down the rhythm with his thundering bass as Monty tickled the ivories eloquently.

The Damned at Concord Music Hall 6/2/24. Photo by Michael Bunuan (@Michael_Bunuan_Photogrpahy) for www.BlurredCulture.com.
The Damned at Concord Music Hall 6/2/24. Photo by Michael Bunuan (@Michael_Bunuan_Photogrpahy) for www.BlurredCulture.com.

The set was an eclectic mix from the band’s history, as per usual. Both “Strawberries” and “The Black Album” were well represented by four songs each, including “Generals,” “Life Goes On,” and “Stranger on the Town” from the former, and “Wait for The Blackout,” “Doctor Jekyll and Mr. Hyde,” “The History of the World (Part 1),” and a shortened version of “Curtain Call” served as part one of the first encore. I say shortened because the full-length song takes up a whole side of the vinyl release of “TBA.” “Machine Gun Etiquette” is the album that got the lion’s share of songs in the set, a whopping seven, including the title track, the ever-popular “Love Song,” “Plan 9 Channel 7,” “Noise Noise Noise,” and “Smash It Up,” which closed their main set.

Their latest album, “Darkadelic,” was represented by the songs “Beware of the Clown,” which saw Dave and the Captain donning red clown noses for effect, and “The Invisible Man.” They threw in two covers: the first was Barry Ryan’s “Eloise,” which they released around the “Anything” album days, and what served as the final encore of the night, MC5’s “Looking At You.” An absolute highlight of the night took place in the first encore, which saw Rat taking an unheard-of moment in punk rock shows, a drum solo. The excitement did not wane from either the band or the crowd as the solo led into one of their most well-known songs, “New Rose.”

They played for over 100 minutes, a long and worthwhile jaunt through their catalog. They sounded great and tight as a unit, and I cannot recall a downpoint. They were both energetic and entertaining, as always. As the North American tour winds down, they will return to the UK towards the end of the year to tour more. I will say this show was well worth the 7-hour drive to be there. As stated earlier, I will continue to venture out to see them as many times as they have left in them. The Damned will forever be a benchmark in the history of punk rock and music in general. Long live The Damned.

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The Dictators at Concord Music Hall 6/2/24. Photo by Michael Bunuan (@Michael_Bunuan_Photogrpahy) for www.BlurredCulture.com.
The Dictators at Concord Music Hall 6/2/24. Photo by Michael Bunuan (@Michael_Bunuan_Photogrpahy) for www.BlurredCulture.com.
The Dictators at Concord Music Hall 6/2/24. Photo by Michael Bunuan (@Michael_Bunuan_Photogrpahy) for www.BlurredCulture.com.
The Dictators at Concord Music Hall 6/2/24. Photo by Michael Bunuan (@Michael_Bunuan_Photogrpahy) for www.BlurredCulture.com.
The Damned at Concord Music Hall 6/2/24. Photo by Michael Bunuan (@Michael_Bunuan_Photogrpahy) for www.BlurredCulture.com.
The Damned at Concord Music Hall 6/2/24. Photo by Michael Bunuan (@Michael_Bunuan_Photogrpahy) for www.BlurredCulture.com.
The Dictators at Concord Music Hall 6/2/24. Photo by Michael Bunuan (@Michael_Bunuan_Photogrpahy) for www.BlurredCulture.com.
The Dictators at Concord Music Hall 6/2/24. Photo by Michael Bunuan (@Michael_Bunuan_Photogrpahy) for www.BlurredCulture.com.
The Dictators at Concord Music Hall 6/2/24. Photo by Michael Bunuan (@Michael_Bunuan_Photogrpahy) for www.BlurredCulture.com.
The Dictators at Concord Music Hall 6/2/24. Photo by Michael Bunuan (@Michael_Bunuan_Photogrpahy) for www.BlurredCulture.com.
The Dictators at Concord Music Hall 6/2/24. Photo by Michael Bunuan (@Michael_Bunuan_Photogrpahy) for www.BlurredCulture.com.
The Dictators at Concord Music Hall 6/2/24. Photo by Michael Bunuan (@Michael_Bunuan_Photogrpahy) for www.BlurredCulture.com.
The Damned at Concord Music Hall 6/2/24. Photo by Michael Bunuan (@Michael_Bunuan_Photogrpahy) for www.BlurredCulture.com.
The Damned at Concord Music Hall 6/2/24. Photo by Michael Bunuan (@Michael_Bunuan_Photogrpahy) for www.BlurredCulture.com.
The Damned at Concord Music Hall 6/2/24. Photo by Michael Bunuan (@Michael_Bunuan_Photogrpahy) for www.BlurredCulture.com.
The Damned at Concord Music Hall 6/2/24. Photo by Michael Bunuan (@Michael_Bunuan_Photogrpahy) for www.BlurredCulture.com.
The Damned at Concord Music Hall 6/2/24. Photo by Michael Bunuan (@Michael_Bunuan_Photogrpahy) for www.BlurredCulture.com.
The Damned at Concord Music Hall 6/2/24. Photo by Michael Bunuan (@Michael_Bunuan_Photogrpahy) for www.BlurredCulture.com.
The Damned at Concord Music Hall 6/2/24. Photo by Michael Bunuan (@Michael_Bunuan_Photogrpahy) for www.BlurredCulture.com.
The Damned at Concord Music Hall 6/2/24. Photo by Michael Bunuan (@Michael_Bunuan_Photogrpahy) for www.BlurredCulture.com.
The Dictators at Concord Music Hall 6/2/24. Photo by Michael Bunuan (@Michael_Bunuan_Photogrpahy) for www.BlurredCulture.com.
The Dictators at Concord Music Hall 6/2/24. Photo by Michael Bunuan (@Michael_Bunuan_Photogrpahy) for www.BlurredCulture.com.
The Dictators at Concord Music Hall 6/2/24. Photo by Michael Bunuan (@Michael_Bunuan_Photogrpahy) for www.BlurredCulture.com.
The Dictators at Concord Music Hall 6/2/24. Photo by Michael Bunuan (@Michael_Bunuan_Photogrpahy) for www.BlurredCulture.com.
The Damned at Concord Music Hall 6/2/24. Photo by Michael Bunuan (@Michael_Bunuan_Photogrpahy) for www.BlurredCulture.com.
The Damned at Concord Music Hall 6/2/24. Photo by Michael Bunuan (@Michael_Bunuan_Photogrpahy) for www.BlurredCulture.com.
The Dictators at Concord Music Hall 6/2/24. Photo by Michael Bunuan (@Michael_Bunuan_Photogrpahy) for www.BlurredCulture.com.
The Dictators at Concord Music Hall 6/2/24. Photo by Michael Bunuan (@Michael_Bunuan_Photogrpahy) for www.BlurredCulture.com.
The Damned at Concord Music Hall 6/2/24. Photo by Michael Bunuan (@Michael_Bunuan_Photogrpahy) for www.BlurredCulture.com.
The Damned at Concord Music Hall 6/2/24. Photo by Michael Bunuan (@Michael_Bunuan_Photogrpahy) for www.BlurredCulture.com.
The Damned at Concord Music Hall 6/2/24. Photo by Michael Bunuan (@Michael_Bunuan_Photogrpahy) for www.BlurredCulture.com.
The Damned at Concord Music Hall 6/2/24. Photo by Michael Bunuan (@Michael_Bunuan_Photogrpahy) for www.BlurredCulture.com.
The Dictators at Concord Music Hall 6/2/24. Photo by Michael Bunuan (@Michael_Bunuan_Photogrpahy) for www.BlurredCulture.com.
The Dictators at Concord Music Hall 6/2/24. Photo by Michael Bunuan (@Michael_Bunuan_Photogrpahy) for www.BlurredCulture.com.
The Damned at Concord Music Hall 6/2/24. Photo by Michael Bunuan (@Michael_Bunuan_Photogrpahy) for www.BlurredCulture.com.
The Damned at Concord Music Hall 6/2/24. Photo by Michael Bunuan (@Michael_Bunuan_Photogrpahy) for www.BlurredCulture.com.
The Damned at Concord Music Hall 6/2/24. Photo by Michael Bunuan (@Michael_Bunuan_Photogrpahy) for www.BlurredCulture.com.
The Damned at Concord Music Hall 6/2/24. Photo by Michael Bunuan (@Michael_Bunuan_Photogrpahy) for www.BlurredCulture.com.
The Dictators at Concord Music Hall 6/2/24. Photo by Michael Bunuan (@Michael_Bunuan_Photogrpahy) for www.BlurredCulture.com.
The Dictators at Concord Music Hall 6/2/24. Photo by Michael Bunuan (@Michael_Bunuan_Photogrpahy) for www.BlurredCulture.com.
The Damned at Concord Music Hall 6/2/24. Photo by Michael Bunuan (@Michael_Bunuan_Photogrpahy) for www.BlurredCulture.com.
The Damned at Concord Music Hall 6/2/24. Photo by Michael Bunuan (@Michael_Bunuan_Photogrpahy) for www.BlurredCulture.com.
The Damned at Concord Music Hall 6/2/24. Photo by Michael Bunuan (@Michael_Bunuan_Photogrpahy) for www.BlurredCulture.com.
The Damned at Concord Music Hall 6/2/24. Photo by Michael Bunuan (@Michael_Bunuan_Photogrpahy) for www.BlurredCulture.com.
The Dictators at Concord Music Hall 6/2/24. Photo by Michael Bunuan (@Michael_Bunuan_Photogrpahy) for www.BlurredCulture.com.
The Dictators at Concord Music Hall 6/2/24. Photo by Michael Bunuan (@Michael_Bunuan_Photogrpahy) for www.BlurredCulture.com.
The Damned at Concord Music Hall 6/2/24. Photo by Michael Bunuan (@Michael_Bunuan_Photogrpahy) for www.BlurredCulture.com.
The Damned at Concord Music Hall 6/2/24. Photo by Michael Bunuan (@Michael_Bunuan_Photogrpahy) for www.BlurredCulture.com.
The Damned at Concord Music Hall 6/2/24. Photo by Michael Bunuan (@Michael_Bunuan_Photogrpahy) for www.BlurredCulture.com.
The Damned at Concord Music Hall 6/2/24. Photo by Michael Bunuan (@Michael_Bunuan_Photogrpahy) for www.BlurredCulture.com.
The Dictators at Concord Music Hall 6/2/24. Photo by Michael Bunuan (@Michael_Bunuan_Photogrpahy) for www.BlurredCulture.com.
The Dictators at Concord Music Hall 6/2/24. Photo by Michael Bunuan (@Michael_Bunuan_Photogrpahy) for www.BlurredCulture.com.
The Dictators at Concord Music Hall 6/2/24. Photo by Michael Bunuan (@Michael_Bunuan_Photogrpahy) for www.BlurredCulture.com.
The Dictators at Concord Music Hall 6/2/24. Photo by Michael Bunuan (@Michael_Bunuan_Photogrpahy) for www.BlurredCulture.com.
The Damned at Concord Music Hall 6/2/24. Photo by Michael Bunuan (@Michael_Bunuan_Photogrpahy) for www.BlurredCulture.com.
The Damned at Concord Music Hall 6/2/24. Photo by Michael Bunuan (@Michael_Bunuan_Photogrpahy) for www.BlurredCulture.com.

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