It’s been a long time coming, but Spiritbox has finally played a flagship show in the UK. Going on stage at the Islington Academy in London is why it was not just a monumental moment for them but for everyone who was there to witness it.
There are times we live in that we know we will talk about for years. Things that stay with us and live in the back of our minds, occasionally creeping up our psyche and bringing us back to how unbridled we felt watching literal magic unfold. They are the things that make us, shape us, and ultimately define us, reminding us of how beautiful, powerful, and limitless life can be.
And spirit box produced two such moments in the span of two days.
Still rolling off their first ever UK performance at Download Festival on Sunday, a set that sent ripples all over the venue, the band took the stage at London’s Islington Academy for their first ever show at the UK one day later. These are milestones that otherwise would have happened years ago, with the band being on UK soil in March 2020, ready to show who they are before having to return home as the world shuts down . But then, without the way the past two years have been, maybe we wouldn’t have been able to share those special moments now. Despite all the frustration, uncertainty and doubt of the past 24 months, the catharsis and thrill of finally being able to do what they were meant to do is even more palpable.
And they really feel unstoppable right now.
For a band that, in the grand scheme of things, has just under half a century of shows under their belt, tonight feels like Spiritbox has been doing it for years. Despite their stratospheric success in preparing for all of this, it’s clear how much Courtney LaPlante and Mike Stringer still felt they had to prove themselves and show that they still had to cut their teeth on as many stages as possible. But by the time the first track “Circle With Me” hits you, it’s clear how much that feeling has paid off. Perfectly tight, chillingly heavy and utterly powerful, it’s hard not to feel a bit choked.
That feeling of suffocation lingers as colossal moment after colossal moment follows. ‘Hurt You’ is all the more brutal and bouncy when played live, and ‘Rule Of Nines’ is a terrifically technical opus, every chug delivered to perfection. And everywhere you look on stage, there’s something to see. There’s the impeccably effortless beat from drummer Zev Rose, and bassist Josh Gilbert plays his part with passion and prowess. And then there is Mike, focused and fierce, and Courtney, imposing, captivating, vulnerable and humble at the same time, finally having the chance to see their creation come to life before their eyes. It’s clear how special it is for each of them and it’s a joy to see.
And these creations, from the stunning “Halcyon” to the tear-stained “Constance”, from the imposing “Secret Garden” to the vast “The Mara Effect”. Pt. 3′ are received with rapturous and raw devotion. Every emotion delivered, from crushing grief to unrelenting power, is felt deep in the chest of everyone present. From the swell of the pit in the front to the arms raised in devotion in the back, there is not a single soul in this room who is not grateful to be here to witness it.
And then, if that wasn’t enough for you, there’s the little glitch of “Holy Roller” causing even more chaos than there already was and ensuring that any remaining hairs on the back of your neck were now at attention. To end with ‘Eternal Blue’ and ‘Belcarra’ and drop the curtain on one of the most brutal, beautiful and heart-pounding shows this hall has ever seen, there’s a moment to take stock of what happened.
After all the applause over the past two years, the wait to deliver tonight must have been immeasurable for Spiritbox. But instead of letting it get to them, they took the pressure off their shoulders and produced some truly extraordinary diamonds. Proving exactly why they are such an exciting prospect in the world of heavy music, and then taking things to a whole new level of awesome brilliance, is still just the start of something that seems absolutely out of this world. And they’ll only get more enchanting from here, too.
We will talk about these moments for years.
Spiritbox is a band that will be talked about for years.