There’s Still Life in The Damned and Dictators: It would be interesting to know how many people were intending to go to see the Damned at the Belasco on Sunday evening but ended up having to go to the extra Cruel World night instead. It doesn’t seem like many in actual fact, because the room seems crammed full, at least towards the front. But the threat of lightning at the Rose Bowl forced Siouxsie, plus Iggy Pop and Gary Numan, to move their set to Sunday and there is surely some crossover.

There was little chance of lighting inside this Downtown L.A. venue, but there were musical sparks thanks to the two veteran punk bands, both proving that there’s plenty of life in the old legs.

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The Dictators (Brett Callwood)

New York’s the Dictators reformed a couple of years ago, without larger than life frontman Handsome Dick Manitoba. If Dick was the face, Andy Shernoff was the songwriting talent and Shernoff is still here, alongside guitarist Ross the Boss, former Blue Oyster Cult drummer Albert Bouchard, and new boy rhythm guitarist/vocalist Keith Roth.

They perform a great, fiery set too although it’s hard not to raise eyebrows at the fact that they don’t play a single song from the Go Girl Crazy classic debut album. So no “Two Tub Man,” no “The Next Big Thing,” and incredibly, no “(I Live For) Cars and Girls.” Frankly, it defies belief.

But still, the set is great. New song “Let’s Get the Band Back Together,” with lead vocals by Shernoff, is a classic Shernoff power-pop stomp. 2001’s DFFD album is the most represented with four songs, including the subtle-as-a-brick “Pussy and Money,” and the anthemic “Who Will Save Rock & Roll.” The three songs from Bloodbrothers, including a manic “Faster and Louder,” are well received, as is a cover of Blue Oyster Cult’s “Dominance and Submission” with vocals by Bouchard, appropriately enough.

The Dictators 2023 might be a different animal, but it’s an effective one.

And so to the Damned who, with Captain Sensible back alongside David Vanian, look perfect. The British band famously released what is considered the first punk rock single, “New Rose,” but they’ve always wanted to look forward. At the Belasco, they leaned heavily on new album Darkadelic, released just last month.

Little wonder — it’s great. Songs such as “The Invisible Man,” “Bad Weather Girl” and “You’re Gonna Realise” slot perfectly into what is already an amazing arsenal of material that the Damned has available. This isn’t a band where you end up thinking, “Oh no, not another new song.”

We get “Wait for the Blackout” and “Lively Arts” from 1980’s The Black Album early on, but we have to wait until the end of the set for the stone cold classics: “Love Song,” “Neat Neat Neat,” “Smash it Up” and “New Rose.”

But there wasn’t a wasted minute, as the Damned prove that there are few better punk bands on the planet. If any.

There’s Still Life in The Damned and Dictators: Visit for more info.


The Damned Setlist The Belasco, Los Angeles, CA, USA 2023


























































































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