Spear of Destiny/Iron Years
Brauer House Lombard IL 2/14/19
British post-punk legends Spear of Destiny are on a tour of the U.S. and I was lucky enough to catch their Chicago area show. It was not well advertised and seemed pretty last minute, leading me to believe that they penciled it in between other existing dates. That probably explains the poor turnout, but the folks that did attend were treated to a great show by these seasoned vets. The crowd was largely a mix of younger goths and older Brits like myself.
If you don’t know Spear of Destiny, they arose out of the ashes of frontman Kirk Brandon’s previous 2 bands: the spiky punk band The Pack, and the amazing, one-of-a-kind Theater of Hate. Kirk is the only original member, but as the songwriter, singer and rhythm guitarist he is the one that counts. He was joined on this tour by original Sisters of Mercy bass player Craig Adams; definite post-punk royalty there.
The opening band were the very Joy Division influenced Iron Years. They are a 3 piece: bass, guitar and synth. The drum machine doesn’t count as a member does it? Anyway they were excellent: Pete Hook inspired bass lines and shimmery, Chameleons-like guitar combined to form a dark and hypnotic sound. I will definitely look for them again.
The headliners were excellent. They didn’t let the small crowd get them down, instead putting in a very energetic performance for those that did show up on this Valentine’s day evening. They played a mix of greatest hits as well as five songs from their latest album “Tontine”. The opening song was the first track from that new album: “Brighton”, and it sounded very powerful live, even though as with most Kirk Brandon songs, I have no idea what he is singing about or if it has anything to do with the song title!. Second was the classic “Grapes of Wrath” from their debut album of the same name. It was strangely subdued, and an odd choice so early in the set, but they later played “The Wheel” from the same album and that was superb. Another highlight for me was the blistering anti-war song “Young Men” from their second album “One Eyed Jacks”. It’s a haunting, anthemic song and its power was astounding tonight. Other highlights were “Strangers in Our Town”, “Come Back” and “MK Ultra”. They played one Theater of Hate song: “Solution” and Kirk really seemed to enjoy that one. Down went his guitar and the chicken dance was in full effect, like it was 1982 all over again! (and no, I don’t mean that hokey thing they do at weddings! Look at footage from any early Bauhaus or Southern Death Cult gig and you will see what I’m talking about). They finished with “The Hop” and the super punky “Liberator”, and after that Kirk thanked us profusely for all coming out and said goodbye.
The post-punk/goth atmosphere was completed with DJ sets by well-know local darkwave DJ Scary Lady Sarah. Hearing songs from the likes of The Sound and New Model Army over the PA was amazing.
Spear of Destiny are about halfway through their U.S. tour, so if you see them advertised at your local venue go along! You won’t be disappointed. But note to any other Chicago-area natives who might want to go to Brauer House (which is located in a far-flung western suburb of Chicago). Get a hotel nearby and spend the night because there was a gauntlet of cop cars along North Ave just east of the venue. Two folks behind me got pulled over for no reason I could see. No fun at all.
Spear of Destiny/Iron Years