Ever since The Spook School announced that they were going their separate ways, we’ve all been on a nostalgic emotional rollercoaster, scratching memories of gigs, festivals, morning football in the fields of Indietracks and late night discos. The stream of collective memories, notes, photos and sentiments has been running consistently on all social media as the band we have all loved so much and owe so much to have been saying farewell across the country on their final tour. The Spook School have grown beyond music and beyond the spirit of a party they took with them wherever they played. They have meant something deeper to so many of us. They’ve shifted and carried cultural debate on the indie scene, a scene that they’ve made more inclusive, diversive, broader, nicer and kinder. As I stood in the middle of Highbury’s Garage waiting for The Spook School to come on, it wasn’t necessarily the excitement and impatience that permeated the air, the thirst you feel just before the band get on stage. It was more the ubiquitous feeling of love, appreciation and adoration for four beautiful humans we have all actually cared for and the music we have been truly grateful for.
Tonight they’re bigger, kinder, more heart-erupting than ever, jumping on stage with cardboard cut out space costumes, announcing to us that they’re not breaking up, they’re simply off to the moon that there’s no need for tears, the moon is an exciting adventure. To eruptive cheers, they launch into ‘Still Alive’, a pop anthem of survival in the Tory-lead country and greed-ridden world for everyone who chooses to fall in the umbrella of queer, different or maybe simply compassionate. ‘I’ll Be Honest’ follows, thrusting everyone into jumps, dance and instant joy, the pop candy of 2013 when things were maybe a bit lighter, we were a little bit younger and some of us were definitely a little bit drunker. In a way, nearly every Spook School song has the quality of an anthem, a personal poem or a prayer, a piece of writing seminal and important, identity and personality defining lyrics woven into rhythmic basslines, joyful beats and punchy vocals. ‘Burn Masculinity’, ‘Body’ and ‘Binary’ are nothing short of that, everyone in the crowd singing along to every word. The songs are intertwined with Niall’s musings on life on the moon and words of thanks and gratitude for the last few years, which are shouted back at the band to insatiable cheers. Their pop is at its most punchy and rapturous with ‘Are You Who You Think You Are?’ and ‘Speak When You’re Spoken To’, sweeping the room in an electrifying punk energy.
As tonight’s show draws to a close, the band reassure us they’ll be around and to keep in touch, following with the soothing guitar heavy rhythm of ‘Try To Be Hopeful’, shedding a glimpse of light in the world we’ll have to face without The Spook School in it. Niall’s drums lead us to the song’s epic chorus that explodes in the fireworks of guitar riffs, pushing us all out floating in the starry sky, wishing we, too, could go to the moon with them. In the most demanded encore I’ve ever heard, they come back putting smiles on our faces with the cover of Fleetwood Mac’s classic ‘Go Your Own Way’ and finish on the high of the sweet pop sounds of the most charming ‘I Want To Kiss You’ and, with the world’s most heart-warming group hug, off they leave – to the moon.
Review and photography by Anna Siemiaczko