Tonight is the first time that I will have had the pleasure of seeing Texas Terri do her punk thang.
I've been trying to occupy the same space and time as her for years, but one thing or another always seemed to conspire against me and until now it has never panned out how I wanted it to, but better late than never says I.
Unfortunately very few people seem to be looking forward to her set as much as I am.
There's a sprinkling of people resting against the barrier and some of them are no doubt just getting in early for a prime spot for the Damned. Others are starting to congregate around the bar at the back of the venue, but the majority of Damned fans are AWOL. Probably out boosting the profits of the bars around the ABC instead of getting in early doors to witness the so called female Iggy Pop show them how rock and roll should be played.I find myself thinking the usual when this happens, and that's that it's their loss, but this time it's actually pissing me off a bit because Texas Terri is deserving of a far larger and far more enthused audience than what she is getting.
She would literally bleed on the stage for you, but why the **** should she? While some artists and bands go for the shock value I don't get that impression from her. When she gets on a stage it's not just about performing, but instead it seems that it's more about letting loose. Its a cathartic experience, a punk rock primal scream (No, not the band Primal Scream. Fucin' google it). You can tell that she has to let every yelp, scream and yowl out and it's powerful stuff.
By mid set she is off the stage and leaving her band behind her to forge out alone into the barren no mans land that exists in front of her. With the mic in her hand and a great deal of bloody minded intent she's out pushing at the fringes trying to get a reaction. Getting into peoples faces and trying to make a connection on a primordial level. A connection that's not a cerebral one, but instead pulls at your core. It's intense and I can only guess at what it would be like in a small heaving and overcrowded club sized venue.
Her set proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that she has more balls that 75% of the mainly male crowd and in my opinion the next tattoo she gets should be one of a medal on her breast, and when people ask what it is she should tell them that it was awarded to her for services to punk rock that were above and beyond the call of duty.
I'm being serious here. When someone, anyone, puts this much effort into a gig and exposes themselves to this degree in front of a crowd then at the very least they should get rewarded for it with a greater level of appreciation than what was on show tonight.
As time was running out Terri and her band managed to squeeze in some paint stripping, foundation shaking versions of Sonic Reducer and I wanna be your dog. Both are punk rock staples that are played regularly enough, but tonight they are ripped apart and gutted for us.
This really is what gig going is all about. There's nothing choreographed about it, nothing that smacks of forward planning. It's all intensely loose and all the better for it.
Maybe next time Texas Terri visits these shores more people will get with the programme and give her a warmer welcome, because she most certainly deserves it.
Edward Tudor Pole has been dragging his battered acoustic up and down this country for years. Sometimes he has a band backing him, but it's now more common to see him standing up there alone playing the court jester.
It's a joke that could wear a bit thin if seen often enough, but in small doses, and with the charm offensive turned up to max, it works. His style of rockabilly and skiffle is actually very entertaining if you like that sort of thing. Fortunately I do so it wasn't a hardship to stand pint in hand and tap my toe for the length of his set.
Funnily enough everyone else in the thickening crowd seemed to be enjoying themselves too. I wonder if they all have Lonnie Donegan albums stashed away at home and this is them getting in touch with their inner skiffle.
By the time he gets to the hit, Swords of a thousand men, there are plenty of people willing to drunkenly singalongaeddie.
There's not a lot more you can say about his slot. It's verging on end of the pier in a English seaside resort that has seen better days shtick, but with a pint or ten consumed everyone is up for it.
Strange days indeed when a punk crowd are more at home roaring along to an acoustic set of eccentric english ditties about moustaches and such rather than getting down and dirty with Texas Terri, but at the end of the day if everyone is having fun it's neither here nor there what I think, and anyway, everyone is here to see the Damned.
So it's another year and another Damned gig and I'm beginning to lose count of how many times I've seen them. Not that I'm complaining though.
While I'd never claim to be the sort of uber-fan who travels the length and breadth of the United Kingdom to get a Damned fix, I do however make it my mission not to miss them when they roll into town.
Truth be told I have even been known to thrash about knee deep in a muddy field to catch them when they have taken to the festival circuit.
Let's just put it this way. If there is a conceivable way for me to make it to one of their shows then I'm there.
Looking back I guess you could say that I've stood shoulder to shoulder with the band and weathered the storms of popularity for more years than I now care to admit.
When their punk credentials waxed and waned I still carried the flame, when the goth crowd took to them in droves I continued to keep the faith, and now, by dint of never saying die, when they have finally reached the stage of being able to reap the rewards of their efforts and can claim to be bonafide punk legends, I can proudly say that I'm still here, still down at the front singing my little heart out.
When I look back the saying that it's not the destination, but the journey that's important rings true.
Tonight in front of a fairly large crowd in a fairly large venue everything seems to just click into place.
They blitzkrieg onto the stage and into Nasty and the crowd are with them from the outset.
Captain Sensible scythes his guitar through the air and grins like an idiot. Vanian looks about ten years younger than he did last year. Punks Dorian Grey has dispensed with his shop soiled Clark Gable look and reverted back to the demonic two tone quiff, leather motorcycle jacket and black jeans that was probably the most iconic of the looks he has experimented with, and without wanting to sound like a confused fan boy I've still got to say he looks fantastic.
In fact the whole band look like being on this stage, right at this moment in time, is exactly where they all want to be.
As they kick into Disco Man they sound and look as fresh as any young band that are just starting out.I can feel the hairs standing up on the back of my neck and a electric burst of excitement runs up my spine. It's as the push forward into I just can't be happy today that it hits me why I love the Damned. It's because they're a bullshit free band, What you see is what you get and when it all falls into place it's a magical moment in time.
In the past I've listened to their detractors claiming that they're a joke band and in my opinion it's just a case of them not getting it. Of course there's humour in what they do, but what the **** is wrong with that? Isn't a huge chunk of entertainment about leaving your audience with a smile on there faces anyway?
By the halfway mark I decide that standing at the side of the stage isn't really cutting it and by New Rose I'm in the crowd working up a sweat, getting elbows smacked off my head and allowing myself to be tossed about as the crowd surges one way and another. Bad time for Bonzo, and shadow of love fly past, by neat, neat, neat I'm flagging and then in the middle of stretcher case baby I'm starting to crash and burn until Fan Club gives me a second wind. That's it though. The Damned might not be finished, but I am. Thanks for the night, Jet Boy Jet Girl and Smash it up come in quick succession, but I'm back at the side of the stage catching my breath.
Last time I seen then in the very same venue I was suitably impressed with the set, but this time it was magnificent.
Naysayers can say what they want. Claim them to be washed up yadda yadda yadda. Whatever. They weren't at the gig, and if they had been they would have had to eat their words. Rest assured the next time the Damned stop off at Glasgow or anywhere else on the west coast I'll be there.