It'll probably be a long time before England's Damned show their faces in Washington again. On their first visit some time ago, they were upstaged by the Bad Brains, the legendary punk group from Adams-Morgan. Last night at the Ontario Theater they were decisively outmatched by Minor Threat.
The Damned tried its best with a refurbished act that featured added keyboards, tight vocal harmonies and a lot of surprisingly tuneful, solid rock 'n' roll tunes. Now and then, lead singer Dave Vanian would pantomime a bit of peckish punkishness to go with songs like "Born to Kill." It was all part of the show; nothing less, nothing more.
They were no match for Minor Threat, however, which--having recently returned from a triumphal nationwide tour--was in peak form; in a word, awesome.
The band galloped through its extraordinary repertoire, playing with overwhelming power and deadly accuracy. Now that they've reverted to their original four-member lineup, they handled the intricate chords and complex internal rhythms of tunes like "Think Again" and "Screaming at a Wall" with exquisite grace.
The band's proclaimed prote'ge's, Anti-Nowhere League, opened the show with a set remarkable only for a complete lack of substance or sincerity. They presented a hokey passionless-play of feigned aggression, taking the Damned's approach to its logical conclusion.