My Kirk Brandon years? I suppose that would be 1982 until now.
Maybe I had a lull; Kirk himself had a lull, but from Westworld onwards, with or without bassist Stan Stammers, Theatre of Hate or Spear of Destiny, I have never let it go. Kirk is back on tour and up the road in Southampton so that’s the gig of the week for me: Spear of Destiny and the One Eyed Jacks Tour.
With a bit of virtual digging there are two early Theatre of Hate gigs I was at: Digbeth Civic Hall, Birmingham and a chicken dance frenzy at the legendary Hammersmith Palais, with Southern Death Cult supporting. By this point the early Kirk outfit The Pack had come and gone, leaving St. Theresa, King of Kings and Legion amongst the rough diamonds of those early recordings. Legion, for me, is still one of the most frantic, exciting tracks of the punk/ post-punk era.
Legion, legion, legion, legion…on YouTube: https://youtu.be/yAC4QRK6b5Q
It was ‘Do you Believe in the Westworld’ that brought wider attention. Maybe the most attention Kirk Brandon ever had. This early Top of the Pops appearance, introduced by John Peel, showcased the ‘Westworld’ single. https://youtu.be/2E_P90oTKa0
In the early 80s I really wanted to get a bleach blonde Kirk Brandon haircut but never got there. Perhaps it’s too late now…never say never eh. I found four of my Spear of Destiny tickets stashed from that early 80s period and I think that was all of them – I seemed to get more careful with them later on. Aston University, Birmingham Powerhouse and Leicester’s De Montford Hall in my Brum years.
In August 1984 the soon to be abolished Greater London Council (GLC) put on the free festival in Brockwell Park with SoD and The Damned amongst the irresistible line up. I recall a a fight with broken cider bottles during New Model Army that got part of the crowd moving…running.
A later big single was ‘Never Take Me Alive’ which made the top 15, when charts still mattered. https://youtu.be/ohN0KIyP8m0
A sign of the times: for the fourth Spear of Destiny album, featuring ‘Never Take Me Alive’, I ventured into the rather short lived cassette market. How we miss their quiet unravelling when left unattended – razor blade sellotape and pencil at the ready.
My last ‘Spear’ gig of the century was on the joint headline tour with Hugh Cornwell, once of the Stranglers, in Nottingham, with my mate Chris (CMe), who is coming along to Southampton this week. He tells me it was called the ‘heads and tails tour’ because Hugh and Kirk would toss a coin to see who went on first. Kirk must have lost in Nottingham. That could be nonsense. He went on first though.
The Rig was an annexe to the main 2000 capacity Rock City that was operated as a separate venue holding about 400. This smaller venue has now become ‘The Blavk Cherry Lounge’.
Bit of a lull after that. Nothing until 2015 and then twice in 2015 – no tickets saved and a bit of Googling required – an acoustic gig accompanied by a cello at the Railway Inn, Winchester (with mate AMu) and an excellent, raucous Theatre of Hate gig at The Garage in London (with CMe again).
I returned to Winchester for Kirk’s appearance as part of ‘supergroup’ ‘Dead Men Walking’ (18.6.16) in the library (Discovery Centre). That was with Stiff Little Fingers frontman Jake Burns and two of Ruts DC. Quite a lot of chat and stories. The line ups have altered each tour. Worth a look.
After these more acoustic shows, in June last year I caught up with Theatre of Hate when they supported The Skids at Shepherd’s Bush O2. A great set. Got a chance to meet Kirk backstage, along with The Skids, via some special tickets. Top night. (+DPi, AMu, GGu, SNi, SDu)
Off to Southampton we go then. The 1865 for The One Eyed Jacks Tour. Wednesday night. Perhaps I’ll get a haircut.