At O2 Academy, Newcastle, U.K., May 25, 2018

SPEAR OF DESTINY (Live at O2 Academy, Newcastle, U.K., May 25, 2018)
Photo: Mick Burgess

What is a band supposed to do? 2018 marks the 35th anniversary of the release of Spear of Destiny’s debut album, Grapes of Wrath, so like most bands celebrating such a momentous landmark, it would be a reasonable expectation to mark that event in someway possibly by playing the album in full. Spear of Destiny however, have just released their 14th studio album, Tontine, a matter of weeks ago so naturally a tour in support of that would be a good idea. Faced with the conundrum of doing a celebratory nostalgic tour or one highlighting their fresh, brand spanking new material showing that they are still a forward moving creative force, they took the perfect compromise and pretty much did both. Perfect.

Spawned way back in 1983 following the split of Theatre of Hate which lead to Kirk Brandon forming Spear of Destiny and Billy Duffy teaming up with Ian Astbury to form the Southern Death Cult which eventually morphed into the more streamlined, The Cult which also initially included SOD drummer Nigel Preston.

Brighton, from the new album was the perfect opener. Pure, classic Spear of Destiny with Brandon’s voice in pristine form. Flying Scotsman and The Preacher swiftly followed from the Grapes of Wrath album and the rest of the set followed in similar fashion with a couple of new songs followed by a couple from Grapes of Wrath.

MK Ultra with it’s pumping bass line, gang vocal chorus and dark Gothic menace showed that Spear of Destiny are still capable of writing killer material. Along with Medievalists and Enigma, a song about Brandon’s Dad’s exploits during the war, Spear of Destiny have produced quite possibly their best album since their ’80s heyday. Second Life, with its melancholic melody and Brandon’s supreme, impassioned vocals really tugged on the heartstrings during one of the most moving and powerful moments in the set.

While lead singer Kirk Brandon may be the sole remaining member from the original band, he has assembled quite a formidable unit that is musically stronger than any in the past featuring bass legend Craig Adams whose credits include Sisters of Mercy, The Mission, The Alarm and The Cult; Adrian Portas on guitar and one-time member of New Model Army and drummer Phil Martini who has played with Quireboys, Wayward Sons and Jim Jones and the Righteous Minds. With a collective 200 years’ worth of recording and concert experience behind them, give or take a year or two, they didn’t half whip up a storm.

Representing the old was the tribal beats of Solution, the fired-up ferocity of The Wheel and the title track to Grapes of Wrath itself. Although the bulk of the older material came from their debut there was time to throw in a couple of Theatre of Hate songs King of Kings and The Hop as well as SOD standards, Come Back from World Service and the mosh pit inducing Liberator from One Eyed Jacks leaving a rather sweaty and exhausted audience in their wake.

Review and Photos By Mick Burgess


  • Mick Burgess

    Mick is a reviewer and photographer here at Metal Express Radio, based in the North-East of England. He first fell in love with music after hearing Jeff Wayne's spectacular The War of the Worlds in the cold winter of 1978. Then in the summer of '79 he discovered a copy of Kiss Alive II amongst his sister’s record collection, which literally blew him away! He then quickly found Van Halen I and Rainbow's Down To Earth, and he was well on the way to being rescued from Top 40 radio hell!   Over the ensuing years, he's enjoyed the Classic Rock music of Rush, Blue Oyster Cult, and Deep Purple; the AOR of Journey and Foreigner; the Pomp of Styx and Kansas; the Progressive Metal of Dream Theater, Queensrÿche, and Symphony X; the Goth Metal of Nightwish, Within Temptation, and Epica, and a whole host of other great bands that are too numerous to mention. When he's not listening to music, he watches Sunderland lose more football (soccer) matches than they win, and occasionally, if he has to, he goes to work as a property lawyer.

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