Spear of Destiny – The Crescent, York, 5th April 2023

Posted: 6 April 2023 in Live
Tags: , , , , , ,

Christopher Nosnibor

Kirk Brandon has to be one of the hardest-working men in British music: if he’s not touring with Spear of Destiny, it’s Theatre of Hate or Dead Men Walking or otherwise recording new albums or rerecording old ones with either SoD or TOH. You’d think he’d be knackered, but he’s got no shortage of energy and is in good voice – he sounds absolutely no different – as he leads the band through a career-spanning set.

They don’t ease in gently, either, storming through an opening clutch of songs beginning with ‘Rainmaker’, followed by ‘Radio Radio’, ‘Young Men’ and the rabble-rousing ‘Liberator’. On a personal level, I’m particularly happy with this, as One Eyed Jacks is a particularly favourite album of mine.


‘Pilgrim’, from last year’s Ghost Population breaks the run, but sits well in the set, built around a beefy guitar chug. It also shows how, as much as they’re a ‘heritage’ band – Kirk jokingly comments on how many of their more recent songs are twenty-five years old now – who are more than happy to crank out the oldies for the fans who grew up with these songs, they’re also very much a going concern and an active, writing and recording band with something still to say and a knack for big, anthemic tunes. They’re great to watch, too: the guitarist plays his solos with his face – it’s particularly fun to watch him mouth the long bendy notes, and the drummer’s a face-player, too. Flippancy aside, though, there’s a lot to be said for the pleasure of watching a band who are into what they’re doing performing, especially when it’s a band who’ve got a wealth of live experience under their belts and they’re just really good, it’s a source of joy. The joy among the crowd is self-evident: it may be toward the older demographic, but they’re here to have a good time and to get moving down the front.


It’s the first night of the tour, and the intro to ‘So in Love with You’ sounds a shade rough but once they’re through it, it’s belting, and keeping the energy up, they follow up immediately after with ‘Never Take Me Alive’ immediately after – and it’s only mid-set. There are people at the bar singing along while ordering pints, and it’s a heartwarming experience all round.

If the main set is perhaps shorter than expected, it leaves time for a lot of encore, where ‘Judas’, from 2000’s Volunteers proves to be a standout as they wrap up a cracking set.


With no support, they’re on early and off early, and it’s not simply age that makes a 10:30 finish a welcome thing: with public transport in the state it’s in, with busses stopping early and trains being utterly fucked and often replaced by busses or nothing at all, it makes travelling even locally to gigs difficult at a time when the night-time economy is struggling. It’s good, then, to see venues adapt to cater for the punters – and judging by how packed the bar was an hour before the show (and the fact one of the hand-pulled beers ran out by 9pm), there’s a fair chance they sold a decent amount of beer on top of the tickets.

For all the crap in the world, good bands and good venues are still thriving. And it seems York is finally on the gig circuit proper. Yusss!

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