“ Oh, What a Relief It Is… “ – Old-timey Alka Seltzer slogan.
I start with this slogan because many of us sighed with relief when Dave Vanian , lead singer of the seminal British punk/goth band, the Damned, started off his Hollywood set with “ Love Song “ and THIS TIME, the microphone he was using actually worked. The last time I saw the Damned, it was at the Ink N’ Iron Fest at Long Beach’s Queen Mary with Fear and the Buzzcocks ( I know, dream line-up ). But many of us were madder than a redneck baker frosting a gay wedding cake, when Vanian’s mike was turned off for most of the set. Imagine the joy of spastically dancing to “ Neat, Neat, Neat “ and then realizing Vanian’s mike is STILL off . We chanted all night, “ WE CAN’T HEAR YOU, DAVE !!! “ as they went through other Damned classics, unaware of this technical malfunction. So this Fonda show in Hollywood was redemption time for those of us that experienced this seaside tragedy at the Queen Mary.
And boy, was it worth the wait. Captain Sensible set the offbeat tone for the night when he first appeared and proclaimed out-of-the-blue , “ DONALD TRUMP !!! “ to get the mostly liberal Hollywood crowd all riled up with irreverent glee and anger at the same time. Many of us Ink N’ Iron-ers way overcompensated for hearing Vanian’s vocals FINALLY as we moshed to classics such as “ New Rose “ and “ I Just Can’t Be Happy Today “ . The crowd was the usual Hollywood punk mix of cool East Los punks, the senior barflies with ill-fitting leather attire, old punks that “ found themselves “ doing edgy graphic designs for not-so-cool corporations, the soccer punk moms that brought their kids to prove that Moms Can Mosh, and the art school gays that love anything theatrical. But for the moshers with ADD, it was not just a night for punk. I saw confusion in their eyes as they tried to move to other not-punk classics such as “ Disco Man “ and an astonishing cover of Love’s “ Alone Again Or “. The last encore song, “ Smash It up “ was a pivotal description of the night as they smashed up various genres and expectations of a punk band, and not many, can touch the anarchic, goth brilliance of the Damned.