THE DAMNED UNITED – Scabies and Gray Back On Stage Together As Professor And The Madman Rock The 100 Club

Words: Matt Catchpole – Pictures: Sam Wells

What better venue than London’s 100 Club for the on stage revival of what many regard as the The Damned’s best ever rhythm section.

Paul Gray and Rat Scabies were reunited for the first time in more than 20 years at the spiritual home of British punk for a one-off show with Professor And The Madman.

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Many of those present would have been there to witness the first flourishing of the partnership on The Damned’s Black Album and Strawberries in the early 1980s.

But this was no night for nostalgia, instead it was a celebration of the UK pair’s collaboration with Orange County-based musicians Alfie Agnew and Sean Elliott on this year’s superb PATM album Disintegrate Me.

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Having originally hooked up in West Coast punk outfit D.I in the ’90s Agnew and Elliott have an instinctive musical connection and. like The Damned, their musical ambitions extend way beyond the traditional punk archetype.

Alfie Agnew – picture by Sam Wells

Warmed up by a full-blooded set from south London psychobilly/punks The WitchDoktors (highly recommended!), sections of the crowd are already slam dancing when PATM take the stage.

As they launch into opener Peace Bombs from second album Elixir, Volume II: Election, it’s clear the acoustics in the tiny club are not best suited to PATM’s expansive sound.

Despite being partially dampened by a perspex screen, Scabies’ thunderous drums still dominate proceedings.

The intricate subtleties of Agnew and Elliotts’ songs are largely lost in the waves of feedback crashing off the back wall and it’s virtually impossible to make out what they’re singing, but nobody seems to mind. This is about having fun.

Agnew, a real life maths professor, is a charismatic whirl of energy, smiling and blowing kisses to the crowd, as he switches between guitar and keyboards.

Sean Elliott – picture by Sam Wells

He shares vocal duties with Elliott – all skate punk cool in long shorts, baseball cap and sneakers – his fluid surf guitar licks ringing out above the wall of noise.

Gray looks like he’s having the time of his life, trademark Rickenbacker bass slung low as he bounces around, head thrown back, throwing shapes.

He casts the odd glance back to Scabies  – who released his debut solo album this year – the pair embellishing their album contributions to considerable effect.

Closely watching Agnew for the changes, Scabies is all over his kit, titanic fills and rolls blending with more nuanced jazz stylings.

Rat Scabies – picture by Sam Wells

It’s a bit rough and ready at times, reflecting the band’s minimal rehearsal time, but this quartet clearly enjoy playing together, the audience feeding off their enthusiasm.

The odd false start is laughed off good humouredly, as the band rip through the set at a ferocious pace.

Standout tracks included NightmareWishesDemented Love Song and the psychedelic ’60s homage/pastiche Space Walrus.

There’s little room for banter, but Elliott finds time in the encore for a quick tale about the band’s encounter with Adam Ant, who’d been rehearsing next door.

Apparently, the sight of Gray and Scabies was all too much for the Dandy Highwayman, who ducked down and hid in a feeble attempt to escape unnoticed.

Paul Gray – picture by Sam Wells

The night’s only nod to past glories comes with the final song when special guest Graeme Douglas, Gray’s old mucker from Eddie And The Hot Rods, leads the band through a speedy and spirited Quit This Town.

With Scabies and Gray having recorded their contributions to Disintegrate Me through the wonders of file sharing, this may have be the first and last time this PATM line-up play live.

That would be a shame as they’ve clearly got something – let’s hope they can build on the critical success of Disintegrate Me and find the space in their busy schedules for more shows in the future.

  • An exclusive limited vinyl-only LP release of this one-off live show is available to pre-order from PledgeMusic.
  • For more about PATM, including how to get a copy of the album visit their website here.
  • Rat Scabies’ solo album Prison, Hospital, Debt is out now on Cleopatra Records via bandcamp. Visit his website here.

 

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4 thoughts on “THE DAMNED UNITED – Scabies and Gray Back On Stage Together As Professor And The Madman Rock The 100 Club

  1. Great review thanks, the seeds we sowed when we interviewed Sean and Alfie in Orange County and suggested the 100 club to play we never thought both Rat And Paul would both play the gig but they did and for that we shall be eternally grateful!

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