Saturday 5 November 2022

Ist Ist / The Silver Lines - Birmingham The Rainbow - 4th November 2022

Ist Ist played the second of their short three-date November tour in the basement of The Rainbow in Birmingham on Friday night supported by local four-piece The Silver Lines who gave an impressive account of themselves. Ist Ist previewed eight songs from their third album Protagonists due in March next year combined with a set of crowd favourites from their two previous albums Architecture and The Art Of Lying.

The Silver Lines open proceedings with an energetic thirty-five minute set that demonstrates why they're favourites on the local scene and further afield. Front man Dan is an energetic presence, lost in the music and defined only by himself and not seeking to be a clone of his favourite front man like so many these days. Their songs are powerful, driving and uplifting, spiked with post-punk edges and an energy that builds and builds as the songs progress. Early single Parliament is a highlight in the set that gets stronger as it progresses, cheered on by a crowd that builds as they play. They've stated they don't want to be just another four-piece indie male band and while they've never escape the numbers and that simple categorisation for those who wish to use it, they've got a spark about them that stands them out.

There's a real sense of anticipation as the extended build into set opener Stamp You Out starts to flow from the speakers and the band make their way through the crowd to the stage. Starting with their most recent single and first track of their forthcoming third album Protagonists is a statement of intent that they're very much looking forwards as a band and tonight's show features eight of the ten songs from that album within its nineteen song set. With crowd's attention spans seemingly being diluted by every passing show and the growing spectre of nostalgia looming over new music like a sword of damocles it's a brave move but one consistent with the band's way of working. And the crowd love it. The roars for the new songs are louder than the established favourites. And that's because Protagonists is their strongest record to date.

The new songs are a mix of the hook-laden - Something Has To Give, All Downhill, Mary In The Black And White Room and the lead single Stamp You Out - the more melodic - both Fools Paradise and Nothing More Nothing Less with its shimmering synth intro - and the punishing finale of Trapdoors. They've also revisited Emily, a constant survivor from their early shows, for the record and it feels like the huge anthemic song for big halls that it always had the potential to be.  

The band are on a roll right now, boosted by a string of sell-out debut shows in Europe and signing to Steve Zapp's ITB Agency, and that warranted self-confidence is very much on show tonight. They're like a well-oiled machine on the older songs without it ever feeling like they're going through the motions. Songs like Black, The Waves, It Stops Where It Starts and You're Mine have been subtly tweaked, improved and they need to in order to keep pace with the relentless quality of the songs from Protagonists. There's also a welcome return to the set for old favourite Jennifer's Lips, from their second EP Everything Is Different Now, that gets huge roars of appreciation. Ist Ist are a band with a deep history now and their fans reflect a mix that have joined them on the journey from local support slots to sold out headline shows nationwide with the ability to go back and discover an impressive back catalogue of work.

Save for some issues with their in-ears, it's a flawless performance, although the perfectionists they are they probably won't see it that way. The set is perfectly paced with a few slower moments - Architecture's A New Love Song and The Art Of Lying's Heads On Spikes - and the riotous cacophony of their final song Slowly We Escape creating a moshpit that threatens to displace the barriers at the front. 2023 promises to be a big year for Ist Ist to capitalise on the momentum they've built with their albums, and their live shows in particular. Tonight they gave Birmingham a taste of what's to come and Birmingham devoured it.

Ist Ist played Stamp You Out, Extreme Greed, All Downhill, Watching You Watching Me, Jennifer's Lips, Fat Cats Drown In Milk, A New Love Song, Emily, Something Has To Give, The Waves, Black, Heads On Spikes, Mary In The Black And White Room, Fools Paradise, It Stops Where It Starts, Nothing More Nothing Less, You're Mine, Trapdoors and Slowly We Escape.

Ist Ist are on Facebook and Twitter

Protagonists, as well as previous physical releases, can be ordered via their website. Digital versions of their previous limited edition releases and a number of live field recordings are available to download from their Bandcamp

Ist Ist play Hebden Bridge Trades Club (November 25, sold out) and Manchester Ritz (March 31).


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