“The English certainly and fiercely pride themselves in never praising themselves”.
– Wyndham Lewis
To say it was an intimate gig would be an understatement. Fifty or so ardent fans of the quaver and minim packed into a windswept church beside a rising river. But that is what made it so magical. With a violent storm breaking overhead the band took to the stage. A single smack on the snare drum signalling the flailing opening to their set. With saxophones, flute and the lead guitarist strumming up the thunderous gallop of The Kingdom of Kent, off the Kentish Spire’s second album – The Last Harvest:
Oh, how the seas are bleeding with human blood,
Ships full of anger, washed and wrecked in the mud,
They’re coming, they’re fighting,
Gnarled and hell bent,
They’re landing expanding,
They want the kingdom of Kent.
Gather your children and hold them to your breast,
The castles have fallen, they never seem to rest,
Our bloodlines infected,
The purity has died,
Our leaders desert us,
The politician’s lied.
Now we are running and hiding from their chains,
Nothing but blood-lust is rushing through their veins,
Our children are captured,
Living in torment,
Shields battered, skulls fractured,
We’ve lost the Kingdom of Kent.
Lyrics entwined with Robin Trower-like guitar licks that speak of Viking raiders and read like an allegory of the immigration invasion in our own time. A rollicking and rowdy number, rapidly followed by Hengist Ridge. A play on the name Hengist (the famed brother of Horsa, the other Saxon prince) and Hergest Ridge, Mike Oldfield’s second album, recorded on the English-Welsh borderlands in 1974. The words to the follow up track ringing out like a clarion call:
Oh, that you were here with me now, sword in hand,
to smite them down, to save our land.
Tunes to mosh to in the melee of long haired pagans in the bear pit of a metal concert. Or savoured at home beside a stack of Bernard Cornwell’s Last Kingdom series with titles like The Pale Horseman (2005), Sword Song (2007), The Burning Land (2009), The Pagan Lord (2013), Warriors of the Storm (2015), War of the Wolf (2018) and The Sword of Kings (2019).
Texts that are perfectly complemented by the Hammond organ and six chord slashing of the band’s Horsa from Beyond the Grave from the Sprezzafura album. A recording that led one reviewer to write:
“These modern troubadours have presented an audio parchment of what can be achieved if the very best ingredients of folk, jazz and progressive rock are expertly mixed in a 21st century cauldron and then feasted upon in the great halls of rock. Resistance is futile, bow down to the new Kings of Kent.”
Feelings that fill me with hope as the body count from the Chinese coronavirus peaks all over the West and I hear the hated Guy Verhofstadt and Daniel Cohn-Bendit, authors of The European Manifesto (2012), talk of rebuilding our economies with Africans and claiming that “the nation state is obsolete.” Because what small local bands like the Kentish Spires bring to the table and what books like Bernard Cornwell’s latest offering portend is art that calls out to your race-soul and puts fire in the belly of the sons of St George.