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VENUE – The Waterloo, Blackpool

DATE – 31st August 2023

Words and photographs – Graeme Wright


God Damn Smile was formed by Gary Salt and Stuart Macfarlane in 2019 after a meeting at a charity event. Originally known as Broadcast, a quick name change to God Damn Smile saw the band out on the road and quickly building a solid reputation as a live act to be reckoned with. This is the first time I’ve seen the band live and it won’t be the last. Song wise they are a bit different from most Rock bands. There is a homely nostalgia to the lyrics which often relate to the experiences they had growing up in a small northern town, from nights out on the beer to collecting empty pop bottles to take back to the shop for the deposit money. Everything they talk about is relatable and funny due in no small part to energetic frontman Gary Salt who has a big stage presence and is an amusing storyteller.

The band describe themselves as “five generations of guys who write songs about real life” and it’s true, with the ages of the band members varying from twenty to sixty plus. Gary’s son Thomas is one of the lead guitarists and is coolness personified at the right-hand side of the stage. Stuart Macfarlane prowls the other side of the stage and is a master craftsman of the guitar, throwing out big riffs and solos effortlessly. His partner in crime at this show appears to be bass player Steve Harris ( no, not that one) and their joy at playing together on this stage is infectious. The glue that holds it all together is drummer Dave Turner who must be shattered after this set due to the beating he gives to the drums from start to finish.

From the opening song ‘Weather Warning’, the band are at the top of their game and while the venue isn’t full tonight, due in no small part to the sheer number of competing high-quality gigs in the North West this week, those present are quickly on board with the band. ‘Sarsaparilla Kids’ is highly entertaining and takes me back to the days when I was a kid doing exactly the same thing referred to in the lyrics. ‘Air Guitar’ transported me back to the early eighties and my fledgling rock night visits, while ‘Video Games’ had me on board as soon as somebody mentioned the ZX Spectrum!

One thing that I need to make clear is the band have a tougher edge to them live than the songs you can access on the streaming sites and this is no better demonstrated when they introduce a new song, ‘Fight Night’ which for me was easily the best track on show tonight. Heavy, immediate with a big chorus I can’t wait to hear the new stuff the band have been writing.

The band closes out with the song that most people know the band for, ‘Chick Flick’. It’s a great track and finishes the show off in fine style, but I have to confess I’m disappointed nobody came out wearing the ‘Kenny’ mask for the chorus of “Oh my God, they killed Kenny” from South Park. I’ll be bringing my own mask next time just in case, you have been warned…

If these guys are playing in your area you should make the effort to get out and see them. Big songs, big personalities and lyrics that take you down memory lane with a huge grin on your face. Seriously, what’s not to like here? Highly recommended.


Gary Salt – Vocals

Stuart Macfarlane – Guitar

Thomas Salt – Guitar

Steve Harris – Bass

Dave Turner – Drums


  1. Weather Warning
  2. Sarsaparilla Kids
  3. Radio Show
  4. Air Guitar
  5. Video Games
  6. Coconuts
  7. 5AM
  8. Fight Night
  9. Superheroes
  10. Chick Flick

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