An Unconditional Triumph


The Hope & Ruin, Brighton - 28th April 2017
Once again, it looks like being a pretty fine year for music, but if one record stands out head and shoulders above any other released over the past four months it is Spectres' amazing album, Condition. This deeply personal exploration of alienation and detachment takes a massive step away from the onslaught of the band's debut album, Dying, showing a greater level of guitar experimentation, though it is a record restrained by rigid controls and a keenly defined purpose. Condition is ruthless in its goal as it cuts through musical convention, slicing away all hubris and meaningless decoration. We were intrigued to see how the album would translate in a live performance and the band's recent tour was not to be missed. Sitting here in north-west Wales, we had seen so many great gigs come and go in our familiar patch of Brighton, we just couldn't let this one pass us by. Four trains, seven hours and three hundred miles later, we were back in Sussex.

After previously capturing the band at Sticky Mike's it was good to see them playing The Hope & Ruin this time around, a better venue, yet surprisingly one that was barely half full. This band is so innovative, powerful and vital, they should be selling our far bigger venues, yet the relative sparseness of the crowd did lend itself to a moving, intimate experience for those with the brains to venture out.

And this was a very different Spectres on show. Where the band used to aim their fury at the audience and attempt to smash them into submission with a howl of rage, Spectres now stand back, detached, and let the music envelop themselves. You would imagine it would be impossible to match the sound of Condition in a live performance, but Spectres nail it completely. They don't have set lists, they don't look at what they are playing; they are so immersed in their music it is almost a part of their being. God, they are tight on stage tonight. There's a not a foot wrong or an anti-note out of place. Darren Frost and Adrian Dutt rock back and forwards remorselessly as they attack their instruments, while drummer Andy Came is shirtless from the start, knowing he is in for a hot night. We like bands to look like bands, but we make an exception for Spectres. They look like they have been dragged off the streets after sleeping rough for a month, all four bearded and shabby. It fits. There are more important things to do than stare into mirrors; there's pain to be explored and terrifying depths to plummet. As it says so brilliantly on their Facebook profile: "We were born. We are playing music. We will die." Too bloody right. There is nothing else, certainly nothing else that matters when Spectres are at work. This band is everything.

We love it when Frost harmonises with singer/guitarist Joe Hatt. The vocals are completely buried, intentionally so, and only make their presence felt when Hatt repeats a single word over and over at the end of the songs when the instruments fade. The harmonies add another faint layer of sound, a mere whisper in the gale, but they are important in showing how much detail and thought has gone into these songs, how much they mean to the band, how important this music is.

It's a stunning show. The audience is completely entranced; some have massive grins on their faces, some have their eyes closed; some both. Compelling, powerful, loud, complicated and brilliantly executed. There are not many bands as good as this. There are not many bands as important as this. Don't miss out, go and watch Spectres playing live. In future years people will be talking about having seen this band play. And you can tell your children there are some things they will never live up to.

Joe Hatt
Darren Frost
Adrian Dutt
Joe Hatt
Words by Adam Hammond
Pictures by Guy Christie
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