Concert Review: Theatre of Hate, Heiwa 2019 UK Tour, 229 The Venue, London [16 May 2019]

I’ve seen Spear of Destiny (SOD) a number of times so tonight I was looking forward to my first Theatre of Hate(TOH) gig.  I’m probably preaching to the converted but for my American followers TOH were the forerunners of SOD.  TOH emerged in 1980 were post punk and only lasted a couple of years before SOD were formed from it’s ashes.  TOH were certainly less radio friendly, more angry, unpolished, raw, frantic with a unique bleak landscape sound and lyrics.   SOD were more chart-friendly alt-arena rock but alas never made it to the big time, tis a pity.  Output wise Kirk successfully resurrected TOH in 2014 with the LP ‘Kinshi’ released via a private pledge and is currently touring in support of their latest release ‘Heiwa’.  Short history lesson over 😊.

Kirk Brandon is certainly a busy man.  He appears too late to be constantly on a mini tour with one of his three bands TOH, SOD or ‘The Pack’. Recently back from the States and straight back on the treadmill tonight it’s London promoting the latest record Heiwa’ (Japanese for peace).  I’m spotting a pattern here – the previous LP was entitled Kinshi (Japanese for forbidden/prohibition).

The current line-up includes original members Kirk Brandon, Stan Stammers (bass), John Lennard (sax) joined by Spear Of Destiny band member Adrian Portas on guitar and Chris Bell on drums.

The band arrive on stage at just after 21:35 all dressed in black.  Kirk wearing baggy turned up jeans, large belt and band t-shirt. His stocky body hunkers over his cutaway electro acoustic Gretsch.  On his left life-long bassist Stan Stammers in a Charles Mansion t-shirt and hat stalks the stage pounding out the distinctive bass lines which earmark Theatre of Hate’s iconic sound.

Now as far as I can make out Kirk has had the same haircut for the last 30+ years. Tightly side cropped blond hair with a longer fringe – he is clearly identifiable!  Kirk burns brightly commanding the stage whether playing the guitar or just singing in that high operatic tone he has.  Not much audience interaction tonight, one song followed by another.  A splattering of their early 80s LP and singles plus newer tunes which follow a familiar well-trodden path that is TOH music legacy.

Kirk’s delivery is impassioned, he sings with raw operatic emotion matched beautifully by the haunting saxophone, whilst Adrian Portas stays rooted to the far right laying down sparse atmospheric riff layers.  Chris hammered out the beat which kept the rhythm section buoyant with Stan.

Alas the lighting was pretty piss poor throughout. It was basically the same dark blue tint, with a couple of white spots facing the audience – really annoying.  I suppose TOH had to do with the venues own stuff – note to venue spend some ££ on lighting!

The audience were always very appreciative and applauded and sung along enthusiastically.  Towards the end of the set the audience got more involved during rabble rousing classics such as ‘Incinerator and Conquistador’ and the forever young ‘Westworld’.  The mosh pit is now in full swing and it continued with the encores (alas I’d had a few jars by this point, was hopping around the mosh pit and by the next morning can’t remember what the hell they were – luckily a direct message to Kirk on Twitter sorted that!).  So, it all draws to a close about 10:45 – thanks for a great night chaps!

SetList (Click on link to view the video on YouTube)

  1. A Thing of Beauty
  2. The Hop – (Single, 1982)
  3. Triumph – (Kinshi, 2016)
  4. Omen of the Times – (Aria of The Devil, 1998)
  5. Judgement Hymn – (Westworld, 1982)
  6. Given – (Heiwa, 2019)
  7. Freaks – (Westworld, 1982)
  8. Maintenance Man – (Kinshi, 2016)
  9. Americanos – (Aria Of The Devil, 1998)
  10. Ukraine Girl – (Kinshi, 2016)
  11. Love Is a Ghost – (Westworld, 1982)
  12. Day of the Dog – (Kinshi, 2016)
  13. Conquistador – (Westworld, 1982)
  14. Incinerator – (Single, 1981), – (Aria Of The Devil, 1998)
  15. Do You Believe in the Westworld? – (Westworld, 1982)

Encores:

  1. Original Sin
  2. Legion

My only musical gripe – wot no ‘Eastworld’ – drat and double drat!

Theatre of Hate have a dedicated, albeit small, hard core following.  Given most of the audience were 50 plus they did a good job on pretending it’s the early 80s and the mini mosh pit was a great laugh.  Even a couple of ladies getting in there flailing elbows and bouncing off each other around the floor.

So, to summarise, a wonderful night, interesting music and crowd, got ensnared in the mosh, got some good pictures, got the 10” blue vinyl ‘II. Heiwa’ EP signed, got a photo with Kirk and to cap it all Kirk is a massive ‘old skool’ Chelsea fan.  So, when we see SOD later this year playing at Stamford Bridge it’s Chelsea tops all round – BTW that includes you Kirk if you’re reading this!!

Also, thanks for keeping the ticket prices very reasonable (slightly too cheap if you ask me but hey!), it’s important!

PS – Must mention the support band Derek Forbes and the Dark – who basically played a 40-minute set of early Simple Minds gems (not surprising given that Derek was their original bassist).  A trio of keyboards, bass and drums – actually, it was rather good!  See this video someone posted – New Gold Dream.

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