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Wednesday, Feb 25 1998
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The Damned
Regardless of what you think of the Damned -- important and influential or boisterous sellouts -- the great old punk band is one for the rock history books. Just over 21 years ago the amalgamation of poster-boy Dave Vanian's baritone crooning, Brian James' catchy guitar riffs, and then-bassist Captain Sensible's chicken suits erupted into the conflagration of the first British punk single, "New Rose." (The October 1976 record dropped three weeks before the Sex Pistols released "Anarchy in the U.K.") From the start, the Damned had a sense of rhythm, harmony, and humor -- not to mention the ability to actually play their instruments.

The Damned were also the first British punk band to release a full-length album, tour America, and break up disastrously, all of which happened in 1977. Although the split didn't last, it effectively set a precedent for the way the group would deal with success -- with death, resurrection, and reinvention, usually with a solid new record -- throughout its career. The best of these resurrections is the 1982 LP Machine Gun Etiquette, the home of Damned classics like "I Just Can't Be Happy Today," "Love Song," "Melody Lee," and the grand punk opera "Smash It Up."

The latest in a string of "final" tours will be a little different: There's no great new album and ex-Sister of Mercy Patricia Morrison (!) will be playing bass alongside Vanian and Sensible. Whatever the lineup, the Damned always put on a energetic show, stocked with the silly antics of Sensible and a set list packed with crowd favorites. This is punk-rockdom.

-- Robert Arriaga

The Damned play Saturday, Feb. 28, at the Maritime Hall, 450 Harrison (at First Street). Tura Satana and Man Will Surrender open. Tickets are $15-18; call 974-0634 for show time.

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Robert Arriaga

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