The Briefs - This is a 21st century band from Seattle with a 'no apologies needed' late seventies classic punk sound. The songs aren't overly dazzling, but the energy and pace do the trick and the requisite hooks pop out enough to make it all pleasant. Shades of revved up Drones, 999, and Eater come to mind (yes, the second tier, but still fun). Brisk and rollicking this is, although I have to wonder about a song that calls for us to 'kill Bob Seger now'. Aren't we a little late for that to matter? At least they didn't follow that with a Reagan song.
T.S.O.L. - I have always thought this band was one of the most overrated in the history of punk rock and a part of a lot of the things that went wrong along the way. But I was interested in catching this near original line-up as back in the day I had only caught the decent but different second version of the band with Joe Wood on vocals. But now it is the mercurial Jack Grisham back on vocals, which was the focal point for their early work. His range doesn't seem as strong these days as his vocals are a bit shrill, but forceful enough. The rhythm section is banging it out well and Ron Emory's guitar is tough as ever. They load up on early material from their first EP and LP which gets the packed house revved up, although thankfully without a crazed moshpit. This was all decent enough, but it didn't seem to fire. I enjoyed the slightly cynical sense of humor that plays better these days, such as not remembering how many presidents there have been since their song bitching about Reagan. So I'll save my TSOL treatise for another day and give them a mildly indifferent passing grade tonight.
The Damned - It has been great fun seeing them in recent years with Dave Vanian still at the helm showcasing his great crooning voice and Captain Sensible providing the guitar licks and goofball humor. The other three guys have given this band a stability that was a word that was impossible to use when discussing the band in those brilliant early days of punk. They did their usual set of songs tonight covering their early punk songs, the great Machine Gun Etiquette material and the revved up poppier psyche-rock follow-ups on the Black Album and beyond. They gave it a bit of a Halloween twist by opening with 'Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde' and 'Plan 9, Channel 7', although there always is a little Halloween in the Damned any time of the year. The sound was a bit iffy at first with overly light keyboards and barely audible bass. But it improved which helped bring the band's energy forward much better. They were pretty hot, although I preferred their show the last time through as the best of the three recent shows I have seen. Still, a recommended band for 2014 and as long as they care to go and an absolutely essential band to add to your record collection--one of the best bands of all-time.
Set List (with a few holes filled in by www.setlist.fm): Dr. Jekyll, Plan 9, Love Song, Machine Gun Etiquette, I Just Can't Be Happy, Wait for the Blackout, Lively Arts, Silly Kids Games, History of the World, 13th Floor Vendetta, Ignite, Stranger on the Town, Eloise (Great Paul Ryan cover!), Disco Man, New Rose, Neat Neat Neat. Encores: Curtain Call, Nasty, Anti-Pope, Smash it Up
Quote of the Night: Captain Sensible after playing 'I Just Can't Be Happy Today' ...
"The old ones hold up pretty well to what the newer acts come up with. For instance..."
Sensible: "Morrisey? That song could have been written for him."