Theatre Of Hate + UK Dissent. Georgian Theatre, Stockton. 13.04.22.

Words and Photos by Steve White 

An eye injury means that former Simple Minds bass player, Derek Forbes – co-writer of some of their biggest tunes including Waterfront – can no longer play support on this tour. So tonight’s three band line-up is reduced to two. Not a problem when the quality is as good as it is.

Local punks UK Dissent open proceedings with a blistering set of hard edged songs that blend perfectly the original sounds of ‘77/’78 with the later, harder punk sounds of the early ‘80s. Little surprise that there’s a decent sized crowd in to support them as they hammer their way through a 30 minute set that lays a perfect foundation for the headliners.

Teesside isn’t known for bringing out decent sized crowds for a midweek gig but this is Theatre Of Hate and in particular Kirk Brandon, who can do no wrong locally, and regardless of whether it’s Theatre of Hate, Spear Of Destiny or a solo show there’s always a good turnout, midweek or otherwise.

41 years after He Who Dares Wins, 42 years after Westworld (and the first time I saw them) Theatre Of Hate are still delivering quality albums and a formidable live set. And it’s not simply a nostalgia trip. Playing a set that covers their entire career the band give everything to performing. Brandon often looks completely lost in the moment. When not playing guitar he’s punching the air or is bent double with every sinew in his body taught, pent up energy ready to explode. At other times he’s completely relaxed, smiling as he shares comments with bass player Stan Stammers or literally beaming as he notices someone at the front so lost in his own world listening to the songs he hasn’t really noticed what’s happening on stage. Stammers delivers some of the greatest bass riffs you’ll hear in a live set by any band and, as he does so, finds it impossible to stay still so paces relentlessly around the stage his bass guitar one moment swaying dangerously close to the heads of those at the front as he fixes people with a hard stare the next moment poking between band members with a knowing grin across his face.

Played well the saxophone can evoke so many different emotions and tonight Clive Osborne’s playing is nothing less than sublime bringing with it a whole new dimension to the dark, rumbling noise of many of Theatre Of Hate’s songs. It forms the perfect backdrop to songs such as ‘Rebel Without A Brain’ or ‘Original Sin’ then almost dominates songs such as ‘Black Irony’ and ‘Omen Of The Times’ meshing together with Stammers bass, the driving drums from Chris Bell and slicing guitar work of Adrian Portas. 2016 album ‘Kinshi’ brings us ’Black Irony’ and ‘Day Of The Dog’ very early in the evening, ‘Original Sin’ sandwiched between them keeps those not familiar with newer songs happy. Latest album ‘Utsukushi-sa’ – ‘A Thing Of Beauty’ proves that Brandon’s voice has lost none of it’s power, sounding as good now as it’s ever done, with ‘Solace’, ‘A Thing Of Beauty’, ‘Pariah’, ‘Girl’ and ‘You Can’t Stop What’s Coming’ showing Theatre Of Hate are still more than relevant in today’s musical world. Unmistakeably Theatre Of Hate with an often haunting, dystopian feel yet wonderfully melodic in places this isn’t a band resting on it’s laurels

Of course there’s a raft of old favourites to play. With all that’s happening in the world ‘Eastworld’ couldn’t be left out, ‘63’, ‘Judgement Hymn’, ‘Freaks’ , ‘Rebel’, ‘Conquistador’ all sound as fresh and powerful now as when we first heard them helping shape our teenage years. By the time the main set draws to a close with the incendiary ‘Legion’ and ‘Propaganda’ there isn’t a soul in the venue not engulfed by the power this band produces.‘Incinerator’ provides the perfect showcase for Osbornes sax playing during the encore whilst the rousing ‘Westworld’ is as good a way as any to end to a gig that has shown Theatre Of Hate to be as great as they’ve ever been.


Philip Goddard

Back to top