Photo by DAN LONG

Halloween came to Philly a day early with last night’s lineup of punk legends at the TLA. The night started early with a solid set of moody garage-rock from local faves A Brood Of Vipers. I always like to see a local band on the bill with a touring band, and Vipers were an excellent match for this stop on the Hallow-East tour. The crowd and the energy grew and as Seattle’s The Briefs took the stage, blasting out a solid set of buzzsaw anthems. Let the pogo-ing and raucous Buzzcocky New Wave Punk commence! You would have sworn they were from the UK and it was 1977.

Next up was True Sounds Of Liberty, who obviously had a legion of devotees who were frothing to hear their favorites from these legendary west coast punks. They were kind of flat for me, but their fans seemed fully satisfied. There aren’t many members of rock ‘n’ roll fraternity who can remember the minute details of a particular night on tour 25 years ago, but TSOL frontman Jack Grisham’s memory has sobriety on its side. He entertained the crowd in between every song with detailed tales of his escapades through Philly. The man also has ants in his pants, as he paced the stage continuously for the entire set. I’m pretty sure he wore out a new pair of shoes.

Then stage curtain closed for the first time all night for The Damned to prepare to take the stage. The crowd roared as the curtain re-opened, with Captain Sensible sliding a beer can up and down his fretboard. The house grew even louder when the impeccably-dressed and ghoulishly-handsome crooner Dave Vanian finally took the stage. They opened with “Curtain Call,” with Vanian orchestrating the band like the maestro he is, singing into a vintage microphone lit from beneath by an eerie green spotlight.

From the first “Whoooaaaa-ooaaaa” The Damned commanded full attention, even though the house sound was shitty, with Vanian’s vocals and Captain Sensible’s guitar too low in the mix. But nobody gave two shits about that once they kicked it into high gear with “Anti-Pope” and the crowd whipped themselves into a frenzy. Both the band and crowd peaked in harmony during the sing-along “Ignite.” The Damned satisfied the serious fans with obscurities such as “Video Nasty” and “Stranger On the Town,” and hookd the casual listener with hits like “Neat Neat Neat” and “New Rose.” The cross-generational crowd, aged seven to seventy, got their money’s worth and it seemed like everyone left the building smiling. –DAN LONG