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Punk band The Damned take their Evil Spirits tour to the Leas Cliff Hall in Folkestone

By Denise Eaton
The Damned frontman Dave Vanian must be gargling with the same vat of formaldehyde used to preserve his Feta-like features, such is the well-kept vocal which shows no hint of wear and tear from 40+ years of performing.
 
Accompanied by a throbbing bass line and frenetically-paced drums, the energising sound waves from 'Britain's greatest surviving punk band' are still enough to make you feel winded just by watching - just as it did when I first saw them more than 30-odd years ago.
 
Then a chaotic quartet, the line-up might have gone through several incarnations, but the band's stamina and spirit remains unabated.
 
The Damned at Folkestone as part of their Evil Spirits tour

The Damned at Folkestone as part of their Evil Spirits tour

 
Original members Vanian and Captain Sensible are now joined by Monty Oxymoron on keys, Pinch on drums and bassist Paul Gray. 
 
Opening with Wait for the Blackout, their energetic one-night appearance at the Leas Cliff Hall, Folkestone on a chilly Tuesday night formed part of a 16-date Evil Spirits tour marking the release of studio album number 11 - and didn't disappoint the now mainly middle-aged fans with a back catalogue of tunes including Dr Jeckyll and Mr Hyde, Stranger On The Town, Love Song and Neat Neat Neat before hitting the crowd-pleasing climax, Smash It Up. 
 
It fell apart in places - no more more noticeable than when a re-start was needed for their highest-performing hit, Eloise - but who wants a polished performance when you're seeing punk?
 
Captain Sensible of The Damned

Captain Sensible of The Damned

 
New Rose came relatively early in the set, giving a surprisingly casual reference to what was Britain's first punk single - it even beat The Sex Pistols' Anarchy in the UK to the credit.
 
Though many of the loyal league of followers will no doubt be hankering for the days they had hair, let alone sculpt it into a mohawk of privet hedge proportions, the band still taps into a part of the soul that will forever beat with a tartan-stained heart.
 
As Captain Sensible said on the night: "We've still got it, just about. Now, where's my coco?"

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