Sunday, 22 September 2019

MUSIC REVIEW: Spear Of Destiny - Gorilla Bar, Manchester.


Formed in 1983, Spear Of Destiny was Kirk Brandon’s follow up band to the punk sensation Theatre Of Hate. The original line up consisted of Brandon on vocals / guitar and Stan Stammers (bass guitar), Chris Bell (drums) and Lascelles James (saxophone). The line-up has changed many times over the years but the constant has been front man Kirk Brandon.

Tonight’s performance at Gorilla in Manchester was the celebration of the band’s second album “One Eyed Jacks” – being 35 years since its release. It reached number 22 in the UK album charts which for a band who were not really about chart success was quite an achievement. Spear Of Destiny have always been known more for their live performances than single or album sales, which is probably still the reason they are able to sell out venues like Gorilla. The stage was set with a backdrop of the album design and the band arrived to stage to the sound of the theme tune from television series ‘The Sweeney’.

The current band consists of Brandon on lead guitar and vocals, with Craig Adams on bass guitar, Adrian Portas on guitar, Phil Martini on drums, Steve Allan Jones on keyboards and Clive Osbourne on saxophone / clarinet. This line-up have been together quite a few years now and it definitely shows.

The show was a play-through of the album “One Eyed Jacks” and the show kicks off immediately with the live anthem that is “Rainmaker” – this immediately throws the crowd into hysteria as the tightly packed pit at the front of the stage starts bouncing and arm pointing. For many of those in attendance this was a throwback to the times they followed the band back in the 1980s – they may be a lot older with a lot less hair than in the '80s but the enthusiasm was just as raw and fresh.

The band then moved into the next set of album tracks “Young Men”, “Everything You Ever Wanted” and “Don’t Turn Away” – the latter two tracks very rarely being played live and therefore a treat for many of the diehard fans. “Liberator” came next, a song that has closed many a Spear Of Destiny show and the crowd were again up for this one – the passion seemed to spur on the band and Brandon in particular is clearly loving this experience.

“Prisoner Of Love” was next, followed by the track “Playground Of The Rich” – prior to playing this song Brandon talked about the different types of people that exist in this world: the rich with their mansions and hedge funds and the working class who continue to struggle to make ends meet. This track was written in the early 1980s but the lyrics are just as relevant today as they were back then.

“Forbidden Planet” and “Attica” were next in the set and finally “These Days Are Gone” finishing the original album play-through. The last track is notable for the talents of Clive Osbourne who played an amazing clarinet solo and had the audience in the palm of his hand – attracting a rousing round of applause during the song.

The final songs of the set were some hits from the same era as “One Eyed Jacks” including B-side “Rosie”, as well as “Grapes Of Wrath” and “Land Of Shame” but the more interesting note from tonight’s gig was the decision made by Brandon to crowd-surf during the final song of the night – “World Service”. He jumped into the crowd and waited to be hoisted above the heads of those people down at the front of the stage and was eventually lifted out and put back on stage – by this point Brandon was also wearing a trilby hat given to him from someone in the crowd.

All in all this was an incredible night at Gorilla, it was much more than just an album play-through. It was an opportunity for loyal fans over the years to celebrate the success of the album and it was also the chance for fans who have perhaps not seen Spear Of Destiny for 20 years or more to enjoy just how good these guys are live. It was also the chance for Kirk Brandon to showcase a 35 year old album and for it to feel as fresh as anything being produced today. Brandon clearly loved playing to this Manchester crowd and it showed as he didn’t want to leave the stage and stayed to applaud everyone for several minutes after the rest of the band had disappeared.

Reviewer - John Fish
on - 21/9/19

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