Monday 17 April 2023

Ist Ist / NOPRISM / Post Ironic State - Glasgow King Tut's Wah Wah Hut / Newcastle Cluny - 13th / 14th April 2023

Ist Ist opened the UK leg of their Protagonists tour in support of their Top 50 album with packed out shows at two legendary venues - Glasgow King Tut's Wah Wah Hut and Newcastle Cluny. Supported by two great local artists - Post Ironic State in Glasgow and NOPRISM in Newcastle, Ist Ist demonstrated why they're on the cusp of making a significant breakthrough under their own steam with the irresistible and overwhelming power of their art.

King Tut's and The Cluny are two of the country's finest venues and it's always a pleasure to visit either. One walk up the legendary steps into the venue at Tut's show the calibre of artists that have passed through these doors on their way up the ladder and turning right into the room and seeing the tight space with the venue logo adorning the back of the stage leaves you in no doubt as to its importance. It's also one of the few venues in the country that doesn't just deal with a curfew cut-off at the end of the night, but no one is allowed to soundcheck before 6pm because of the offices above it. The Cluny is a more modern venue, with two rooms, the smaller other one with a sold-out CVC gig on the same night, but it feels no less like a rite of passage playing here. Independent venues might have not have the resources of the bigger spaces, but they have the atmosphere, the people and the clientele who are the ones that take a chance on new music before it hits the big stages. 

Before coming onto Ist Ist, we'll start with the supports. Glasgow has Post Ironic State opening up and they tell us this was a last minute show and guitarist Jake is playing only his second show with them and had to learn the guitar parts that morning. We wouldn't have known had they not told us. Visually intriguing, front man Jai an affable chap in standard Fred Perry gear stood next to the gothic queen Jo Jo and the long-haired bassist Elliot. They don't look like they belong together in the same band until they start to play. The music does lean on its influences but with a loose enough grip to allow the personalities of the band to shine through in it, the synths in particular elevating it up. Jai's modesty between songs belies the strength of both the performance and the songs, often a band will have one but not the other, with Grin And Bear It and the final Tim Burton being particular stand-outs.

Newcastle's support NOPRISM are a little more established, having already caught the ears of Radio 1 and Simon Le Bon, one of the most surprising yet enthusiastic champions of new music. The trio stand in a line at the front of the stage, guitars and synths backed by a drum machine. As the final song Happiness stops dead before being repeated due to a technical issue, front man Andrew jokes that technology has been against them since they sacked their drummer. Unpeturbed they repeat the song. They trade in huge anthemic songs underpinned but not dominated by the synths and deliver them with a potency and power that grabs the Cluny crowd and makes them listen.  Turn The Wheel, a single from last year, is another set highlight as is a song that's introduced as a new one, but over the thirty-five minute set the quality and the intensity never drops. The old adage of making sure you watch the supports is very much proven to be a wise one over the course of the two nights.

Not another bloody Ist Ist review someone will no doubt be saying to themselves. At this point we’ll refer you to the About Us section of the website and suggest anyone writing about music as a hobby and not championing ceaselessly the music they love again and again might respectfully be missing a trick. Oh and we don’t care so don’t bother telling us.

Neither gig is technically sold out but both rooms are full. Full of the curious, the dragged along by a friend telling them “you have to see this band”, those they’ve picked up en route supporting The Mission and The Chameleons and the few that have been there from the very start. It’s hard to distinguish them by the end of the night. What’s noteworthy though, as it was at The Ritz, is the age and gender mix. Where their crowds were once of a certain vintage and predominantly male and wearing t-shirts of bands of a specific genre, there’s groups of young women at both shows (and men too). Those who deal in easy categorisation and pigeonholing are going to have a hard time dismissing this if it continues and it’s a sign that Ist Ist are soon going to be too hard to ignore if they’re not already.

Like many of the greatest bands, and Ist Ist are, they’re constantly seeking improvement, tweaking the set to fit their mood, the space they’re in and to keep it fresh for them. It means crowd favourites like Silence, first released back in January 2017, gets a rare outing in Newcastle and the potent Jennifer’s Lips from their second EP Everything Is Different Now in Glasgow. There’s shouts in vain on both nights for songs that don’t make the setllst. With three albums and a couple of EPs to their name, Ist Ist, using a football analogy, could field two teams and still emerge victorious.

A friend and far more eloquent journalist than we’ll ever be came to their Ritz show and commented that despite a lack of the traditional stage presence of bands (only Andy speaks and only two or three times a night to thank the crowd) and the fact their songs don’t have the stylistic variation that some do (“fast one”, “jazzy one”, “dancy one”) their power comes from doing what they do best. Magnificent was his conclusion. It’s a perfect summation of the band, Frank Black says nothing at Pixies gigs, it’s part of the enigma and a refusal to follow expected norms when it’s not natural and would appear forced. Ist Ist are Musik Über Alles, absolutely confident in their art, focused on their instruments and lyrics. It’s clinical in execution, focused on blowing the audience away, but not lacking in moments where they simply let loose such as when Black and Trapdoors accelerate headlong to their conclusions. The superb sound in both venues lets you hear that clearly. The lack of a big lights show simply accentuates it all.

The sets build relentlessly like a juggernaut, you sense it on stage and in the crowd as people move forward. People dance but don’t mosh, other than a little burst during You’re Mine. The attention is drawn to the stage and held firm throughout. It's almost hypnotic at points. Adam’s outpourings as a cathartic release in the songs would be cheapened by unnecessary chat between songs and thus there’s no space for attention to be diverted elsewhere. The final quintet remain the same both nights, the deliciously synth-laden Nothing More Nothing Less, the ageless Emily, the soaring Extreme Greed, short sharp shock of You’re Mine and the despairing on the precipice yet somehow uplifting Trapdoors. They’d be at home in any venue of any size anywhere in the world.

Ist Ist are on Facebook and Twitter

Protagonists, as well as previous physical releases, can be ordered via their website. A digital version with an additional eight live versions of tracks from Protagonists can be ordered exclusively from their Bandcamp

Ist Ist play Birmingham Hare And Hounds (April 20), Bristol Thekla (21), London Omeara (22) and Whitby Tomorrow's Ghosts Festival (29) before heading to Europe to play Antwerp Trix (May 25), Cologne Artheater (26), Paris Supersonic (27), Rees Haldern Pop Bar (28), Nijmegen Doornroosje (30), Bielefeld Movie (31), Rotterdam Rotown (June 1), Hulst Vestrock (2), Amsterdam Melkweg (4) and Berlin Kantine Am Berghain (5)


Follow Even The Stars on Twitter at @eventhestarsuk and like our Facebook page for all the latest updates

No comments:

Post a Comment