SPEAR OF DESTINY the band are named after the Lance of Longinus aka the Spear of Destiny, or the Holy Spear, which was the lance that pierced the side of Jesus as he hung on the cross during his crucifixion. For more information check out “The Spear” a novel by James Herbert.
Anyway, enough of that as this is a rock gig not a history lesson! First up we have Coventry punk rock trio ARMY OF SKANKS. Unfortunately for them their set coincided with the second half of the England slaughter of Senegal, thus the tumbleweeds were blowing through the venue, so you had to feel sorry for them especially as they ply a fine line of melodic punk rock.
I first encountered the band years ago as a quintet and have since caught them regularly over the years on the punk rock circuit also as a quartet and now as a trio, with bassist Wendy Seenan now taking on the vocalist’s role alongside her bass playing duties.
Terry ‘Whippit’ Downes is on drums and Carol Lane on guitar/backing vocals.
The band have released three albums and one EP to date although their last recording came out in 2019, so they really need to hit the studio again! Thus, tonight they played a decent cross-section of tracks from those releases helped by a brilliant sound which heightened the drum sound and the harmony vocals, which to be honest weren’t used enough.
The band are also a hell of a lot tighter as a trio rather than the looser more garage sound they exhibited previously, although the band need to improve their audience communication as there’s rarely any chat between songs and when there is, it sounds like the band are apologising for being there. So come on the songs are good, just be more confident and get your message out there!
Next on are a band who certainly don’t need any confidence and that’s RT-ZED, the band being the rock vehicle for Stiff Little Fingers’ drummer Steve Grantley to show he’s more than just a tub thumper as he’s the vocalist/rhythm guitarist for this outfit.
As well as Grantley, the band have two other guitarists in Jonesy and John Magna, James Alleyne on bass and recent recruit Ally Wilkinson as touring drummer, so there’s quite a bit of firepower there! The band are plugging their fifth studio album “Zed Nation” and new single “Black Heart Of Love” and so it’s a rare chance to see the band live. As the band emerge on stage, the England game is in time-added-on, so although there’s more people in the venue it’s still a bit sparse, so it’s funny to hear Mr Grantley quip “and the crowd went wild” on entry, to which a wag replied, “don’t worry the match ends in a few minutes!”
The band open with “You Are Free” from 2016’s third album “Zed Head” before the first of the new songs with the rocking “Super Faker” and that’s where the band lie, in the alt-rock region, cos it ain’t punk, which is no bad thing to be fair. “She Was Bad” quickly makes way for “Jonee” both also pulled from “Zed Head”. But it’s the new album that needs selling and with the room nicely filled up post-match, we get “Don’t Hit The Brakes Until You Crash” and “Until The Next Time” with Grantley informing all and sundry that the band is derived from their love of glam rock.
The personal single/”Zed Head” track (about his father’s death), “Room No 5” is played followed by fellow album track “Pretty Ugly” before the superb new single “Black Heart Of Love” and Zed Head’s “Get What You Want” bring their riveting set to a conclusion, so if you get the chance, go and see ‘em, you won’t be disappointed!
And so, to the headliners tonight SPEAR OF DESTINY, who are on their “Ghost Population Tour”, promoting their 15th studio album of the same name, so there’s a few new tracks tonight and if that’s not bold enough, they’ve revamped their set to include a lot of deeper cuts from their back catalogue, so it’s really a show for the die-hards tonight rather than the one-gig-a-yearers!
Thus opener “Land Of Shame” is pulled from 1987’s very successful “Outland” album, followed by 1988 single “Radio Radio” before “Shine” heralds the first of the new album tracks. The classic “World Service” album track “Rocket Ship” is a tasty morsel thrown out early doors, prior to another couple of newbies with “Waster” including tongue-in-cheek Kirk Brandon intro and “Clarion Call”. The “One-Eyed Jacks” album from 1984 provides another highlight with “Young Men”.
The band follow it by playing their second and last Virgin Records single in “So In Love With You”. Deeper album track “The Price” from their sole Virgin album “The Price You Pay” makes way for the spaghetti guitars and tribal pounding of new song “Neolithic By Design”, describing the early moments of a relationship. “These Days Are Gone” could be a reference to their ’80’s heyday but is in fact another winner from “One Eyed Jacks”. “Lucky Man” is the lead track from their ‘blink and you’ll miss it’ “Morning Star” album from 2003, with “Pilgrim” being the last of the new tracks.
1997’s “Religion” albums relinquishes its only track tonight in “Prison Planet”, making way for the deepest cut of the evening with “Pumpkin Man”, the 12” B-side of the “Never Take Me Alive” single, double-pack! “I Can See” finishes the set proper, another banger from “World Service” leaving Kirk to thank tonight’s crowd before departing. But rest assured they’re quickly back for a couple of encores, which for the writer represent the best 2 tracks played, the classics “Rainmaker” and “Liberator” both from “One Eyed Jacks”, ensuring everyone went home happily humming those earworms.
DERRICK ‘BISON’ MOORE
Kevin Hargrave Photography.
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