The penultimate night of their ten-date UK tour, and the Black Spiders roll into a distinctly miserable Crumlin along with tour support The Hot Damn! The venue is, as I’ve mentioned many times, anything but miserable. But the weather is distinctly Welsh again, with torrential rain and gusty wind making the welcome in the hillside more of a mouthful of obscenities. Thankfully, once inside the venue, things are much more conducive to a rock ‘n’ roll show.
The Patriot, Crumlin – 24 September 2023
Words And Photography: Paul Hutchings
It’s a little sparse on audience, though. The combination of Sunday night, poor weather, and a certain World Cup rugby match all contribute to lower-than-expected numbers. When I read that the band sold out their Glasgow show and have been packing them in at other venues, one once again questions the commitment of the Welsh crowd.
But then again, The Black Spiders have been in these parts twice already this year, playing a show at this venue in March as well as emergency stand-ins a few miles away at the Steelhouse Festival a mere two months ago. It might be a sign of the times that punters are picking and choosing their shows more than ever.
In my review of the band at Steelhouse in July, I observed that I had overheard someone call them a pub band that got lucky. Well, if they were playing in my local, I’d probably be a lot wider of girth and drunk more often, for the Spiders are a great live band with a delicious awkwardness about them that they have always had.
At times, they look quite disconcerted with their lot. Vocalist Pete Spiby never looks like he is enjoying himself, despite the fact he clearly is. He has been the staple of this hard-working UK band since 2008 and has ample experience to deliver the full show, regardless of numbers.
The slightly challenging technical issues that briefly threatened at the start of the set as they launched into Si, El Diablo are soon overcome, and despite some continued gremlins that murmur through the evening, Black Spiders are in fine form.
It may not be the hottest, most explosive gig that Black Spiders have ever played, but the audience is enthusiastic and engaged. It’s drummer Wyatt Wendel’s birthday weekend, we are told, as a rather limp happy birthday rings around the place.
More exciting is seeing the four members of The Hot Damn! crash the stage in face paint during Kiss Tried to Kill Me. It’s a good laugh as the girls run around with fake machetes, hacking away at Black Spiders throughout the track. Cue much laughter within the crowd and even a moment when Spiby smiles, although it might just be wind.
The bulk of the set spans from the beginning of the band’s career but also includes their latest release. A spread from 2023’s Can’t Die Won’t Die is greeted with excitement, with the likes of Destroyer and Alright, Alright, Alright nestling alongside the established staples from the band’s classic debut, Sons Of The North.
Just Like A Woman and St Peter have been doing the rounds for years, whilst it wouldn’t be a Black Spiders show without the FUBS chant. It’s delivered with a gusto that Spiby demands from an audience that by now is focused on what’s unfurling in front of them.
Their combination of good-time rock ‘n’ roll may not be anything stunningly new, but you can’t fault Stabbed In The Back, Hot Wheels, or A Rat Is A Rat to push even the most reluctant fan into a bit of movement and a smile even if the band do appear to be having more fun than some of the crowd.
Whilst guitarist Ozzy Lister and Mark Thomas don’t have much room to manoeuvre, Spiby and bassist Adam Irwin move freely, with Irwin coming dangerously close to hitting one of his bandmates several times. Wendel is a powerhouse behind his fabulously trashy kit, transparent with multicoloured lights throughout it. And Spiby is a fine frontman despite his dour appearance. I’ll put that down to being from Sheffield.
They blast through their set, mixing up the styles. There is Motörhead, blues, and, of course, some crunching riffs throughout. If you are a fan of hard rock and Heavy Metal, then you should really like the Black Spiders.
I know some don’t, but on this showing, and it’s not their best, I would question their choices. Always fun, always heavy, Black Spiders leave Crumlin with our ears ringing and our throats sore but with a smile on our faces. Fuck You, indeed!