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The Damned to headline Saturday’s line-up at Stone Valley South Festival





Punk pioneers The Damned will headline Saturday’s bill when Stone Valley Festival South returns to East Herts in May.

The band’s first record, New Rose, was credited as the first British punk single after journalist and photographer Caroline Coon coined the term.

When vocalist Dave Vanian, guitarist and songwriter Brian James, guitarist Captain Sensible and drummer Rat Scabies formed The Damned in London in 1976, they were at the vanguard of the anarchic youth movement, supporting the Sex Pistols at the 100 Club. They went on to release the first full-length punk studio album, Damned Damned Damned.

The Damned
The Damned

James is not part of the current line-up, although he reunited with Scabies, Sensible and Vanian for five Damned shows in the UK in 2022. For the first time since 1989, the three original members will play with bassist Paul Gray, who joined in 1980.

They have embarked on a worldwide tour and festival appearances. Shows in Japan, Australia, Canada and the United States will culminate in a gig at London’s Roundhouse in December.

Vanian has been the only ever-present member. His baritone voice is the band’s signature sound on the nine UK top 40 singles including Love Song, Smash It Up, Grimly Fiendish and Eloise.

Fun in the sun at Stone Valley South
Fun in the sun at Stone Valley South

Born David Lett, he changed his name to Vanian in a nod to Transylvania after a stint as a gravedigger, and his vampire style has been a major influence on goth culture.

Raymond Burns, better known as Captain Sensible and instantly recognisable in his trademark red beret and white-framed sunglasses, played bass and guitar for the band and became its main songwriter after the departure of James.

He found solo fame in the 1980s, scoring a No 1 hit with his version of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Happy Talk and follow-ups Wot and Glad It’s All Over.

Drummer Rat Scabies was born Christopher Millar. According to punk legend, he earned his stage name during his audition as he was suffering from scabies and a rat ran across the floor.

The Stranglers
The Stranglers

Bassist Paul Gray first found fame with Eddie and the Hot Rods and was recruited into The Damned by Sensible and Scabies before his first departure in 1983.

As well as working with former Wham! star Andrew Ridgeley, his side projects include Wingmen with Leigh Heggarty from Ruts DC, Johnny Moped drummer Marty Love and guitarist Baz Warne, who will also be playing at Stone Valley South when his band, The Stranglers, take the Sunday headline spot.

He has been part of the outfit for almost 25 years, though this year The Stranglers, returning to Stone Valley after their appearance in 2022, mark their half-century in the music industry.

Stone Valley South festival
Stone Valley South festival

The Guildford rock band emerged via the punk scene and have racked up 23 UK Top 40 singles and 19 Top 40 albums including No More Heroes, Peaches, Always The Sun, Skin Deep and Big Thing Coming.

Of the current line-up, only bassist Jean Jacques Burnel is an original member. Keyboardist Dave Greenfield died in 2020, drummer Jet Black passed away in 2022 and guitarist/vocalist Hugh Cornwell, who quit in 1990, has carved out a solo career.

The Sherlocks. Picture: Jon Seymour
The Sherlocks. Picture: Jon Seymour

Top of the bill when the three-day festival kicks off at Pepper Hill Farm, Great Amwell, on Friday May 24 will be South Yorkshire indie rockers The Sherlocks, performing ahead of a headline show at Don Valley Bowl.

Bad Manners, back by popular demand with legendary frontman Buster Bloodvessel, will also help get the party started with a raucous set that is bound to feature Walking on Sunshine, Special Brew and Lip Up Fatty.

Stone Valley royalty The Dualers are usually a fixture of the weekend bill, but, for 2024, the nine-piece ska and reggae band from south-east London, best known for their hit single Kiss On The Lips, are making an early appearance.

Another regular act returning on Friday is From The Jam – Bruce Foxton and Russell Hastings, with a romp through The Jam’s back catalogue backed by Foxton’s peerless bass-playing.

Stone Valley South rocked by From The Jam
Stone Valley South rocked by From The Jam

On Saturday, as well as The Damned, the bill includes Liverpool’s Cast, ready to play top 10 hits like Free Me, Guiding Star and Live the Dream; English folk punk band Ferocious Dog, who were a hit last year at sister festival Sign of the Times in Little Hadham; Scottish alt-rockers The Soup Dragons, who hit the charts with their cover of The Rolling Stones song I’m Free; All Together Now and Groovy Train hitmakers The Farm; Brighton’s punk-inspired The Bar Stool Preachers; Italy’s Smalltown Tigers playing Ramones hits; high-octane tunes from Millie Manders and The Shutup; and “noisy fun machine” Kid Klumsy.

As well as The Stranglers, Sunday’s line-up includes Inspiral Carpets, who also appeared at Sign of the Times last year and will be bringing Madchester vibes to Stone Valley with a back catalogue including This Is How It Feels and She Comes In The Fall.

Punk legends The Buzzcocks will be rolling back the years to the heyday of hits like Orgasm Addict and the anthemic Ever Fallen in Love after Oi! heroes The Cockney Rejects bring the East End to East Herts.

Republica, fronted by Saffron, will be Ready To Go ahead of the late Ian Dury’s band The Blockheads. Shanghai Treason, a Yorkshire-based Celtic punk-inspired five-piece, and Voodoo Radio, a Cumbrian power-pop-punk pair, will be kicking off proceedings on the final day.

Buster Bloodvessel of Bad Manners
Buster Bloodvessel of Bad Manners

One stalwart will be missing from the line-up. Heart problems have forced Neville Staple, from The Specials and Fun Boy Three, to cancel his regular appearance at the festival.

For its sixth staging in East Herts, Stone Valley Festival will again be offering the usual mix of camping, weekend and day tickets. This year, the organisers are promising improvements to the VIP camping, glamping and VIP arena options.

As well as three days of indie, punk, mod, ska and northern soul music, the festival features stalls selling clothes and memorabilia, children’s entertainment and a range of food and drink.



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