Friday 9 December 2022

I Like Trains - Manchester Deaf Institute - 7th December 2022

I Like Trains opened up a short UK tour with a packed out show at Manchester's Deaf Institute on Wednesday night. Heavily featuring 2020's excellent Kompromat album and including new single The Spectacle, they delighted their dedicated fanbase with an intense and powerful performance.

Tours by I Like Trains come along about as frequently as an on-time Transpennine Express train from their native Leeds to Manchester. The band may have been around quite some time, their website declares them as "miserable since 2004", without making the breakthrough that their output deserves, but like many bands that operate under the radar of commercial success and daytime radio play, those facts themselves make them special to those who've discovered them along that journey and the response they get tonight is one that comes with a heartfelt genuine connection.

Normally we hate comparisons, because it devalues the originality of the band's work, but there's something of The National's Matt Berninger in David Martin's stage persona and half-spoken half-sung lyrics. It's not the Sprechsegang style that the vogue right now, but a deeper more intense form of expression that makes everything feel lived in. 

The songs themselves, whether it be the eight tracks from Kompromat all the way back to early single Spencer Perceval that is the sole encore, feel like they'd be equally at home in an intimate setting like this as they would be in a huge open arena. Soaring synths and guitars emerge from monolithic dark structures, aided by a light show and video screens behind them that add to the impact of the songs rather than distract from them. Between song chat is irreverent, often in-jokes between the band, at one point recalling a gig from their early days here when Manchester was less built up than it is now that ends with David giving us a solemn well done for that progress, if it is indeed that.

The main set finishes on a magnificent The Truth, where David dispenses truth cards to the audience and incorporating part of Three Lions as well as the rap from World Of Motion slowed down and delivered as a monologue. New single The Spectacle is another highlight, a song that continues in their rich tradition whilst still evolving rather than revolutionising their sound. They leave to a hero's welcome, and whilst no one these days actually likes trains anymore, the band's name feels even more deliciously ironic.

They played Steady Hand, Desire, Dig In, Mnemosyne, Prison, The Spectacle, Helsinki, The Beeching Report, Man Of Conviction, Patience, Rock House, Terra Nova, New Geography, The Truth and Spencer Perceval.

I Like Trains' website can be found here and they are on Facebook and Twitter.

They play Glasgow Hug And Pint (December 9), Sunderland Pop Recs (10), Nottingham Rescue Rooms (11) and Bristol Thekla (12).

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