Monday 5 February 2024

Ist Ist / Midnight Gallery - Huddersfield The Parish - 3rd February 2024

Ist Ist completed a triumphant four-date mini-tour for Independent Venue Week at a sold-out Parish in Huddersfield on Saturday night.  Performing tracks from across their three albums, their recent reissue of their debut EPs and showcasing a couple of brand new songs they delighted the growing band of Ist Ist faithful with a show that confirmed their seemingly unstoppable momentum as they enter what promises to be the biggest year for the band yet.

At the end of Independent Venue Week it'd be remiss not to comment first on the extraordinary work that's been done at The Parish in Huddersfield that stands as proof that independent music venues can be a success. With two rooms in operation supported by a vibrant bar and food area the venue has brought live music to a town that would otherwise have required folk to travel to Manchester or Leeds on the increasingly unreliable Transpennine Express trains. The sound in the venue is impeccable, the gig sold out but not crammed into every single inch of the floor, the staff knowledgable and friendly and the whole gig experience a really pleasurable one.

Midnight Gallery open up and the four-piece leave a really positive impression once more. The exceptional sound of The Parish allows the detail in their six song set to be heard, particularly the impressive guitar playing of Evan and bass of Louis and the rich intonation in Robin's voice that got a little lost either in the mix or nerves earlier in the week in Preston. Their songs feel like they've been crafted in great detail, the six of them taking over thirty minutes, focusing on the journey the music is taking them on rather than trying to fit into a formula for radio or streaming hence there's some dark but beautiful instrumental segments in them. Single Unknown is a great introduction point to them, but 7 and Obsessions suggest that they're a band who have a lot more to say.

Ist Ist very much are a band with a lot to say and most of it they do without words, letting the sheer power of their music do their bidding for them. Over the course of twenty songs and eighty five minutes they demonstrate why the only thing holding them back is actually getting heard or seen. Even with a list of songs not performed that others would give up limbs for, the quality and intensity of the set never drops. Relentless from the minute the throbbing intro to Wolves crashes into guitars to the last notes of Slowly We Escape where the band lose their collective shit in the last minute and a half of the outro they sound like a band made for stages and rooms much bigger than this. However as Andy states near the end they understand that venues like The Parish and the three they've played this week are absolutely vital for the health of the music industry and the development of the next arena and stadium headliners.

The set takes us on a winding trip through their back catalogue. Stamp You Out, the lead single from their most recent third album Protagonists, sits next to Exist, the lead single from their second EP Everything Is Different Now which has been repackaged with their debut into the Everything Is Spinning Now album that charted inside the top 50 for physical sales last week. The latter, like the older tracks from the EPs that have been revisited for this tour, feels like it's being played by a different band and in many respects Ist Ist are just that. The new songs - Lost My Shadow and The Kiss - are unmistakably Ist Ist, but also a progression, arriving already rounded and fully-formed and a tantalising insight into their fourth album that's expected to land in the second half of this year.

Supremely confident in their own abilities, backed up by sold-out shows in statement venues in the UK and Europe last year, having gone full-time as a band alongside setting up their own KVR Rehearsal Studios just outside Manchester, this show very much feels like an intimate undersell such has their star grown. Tonight's show sold out almost immediately when last time they played here in May 2022 it was just over half full. Whether it be Andy's bass, often used to lead the guitars, Joel's drumming that drives these songs along and his often over-looked backing vocals, Mat's switching between guitars and synths that widened their palette from the moment he joined or Adam's rich baritone vocals, Ist Ist are very much a band of brothers.

They proceed to demonstrate why that is the case. Protagonists is heavily featured as you'd expect, the top 50 album laden with songs like the mid-set trio of Mary In The Black And White Room, Nothing More Nothing Less and All Downhill which saw the band open up the side of their music that has broadened their appeal. With Fools Paradise and encore opener Emily having the crowd singing back the backing vocals and the guitar line to them and front man Adam showing moments of animation it also feels like the connection between band and audience is deepening too.

The momentum builds throughout, they pace the set perfectly. Heads On Spikes' twisted waltz is the only brief moment of respite in the second half of the set that includes the tumultuous Something Has To Give and the battered bruised romanticism of Architecture's Black before the punishing Trapdoors closes the main set. The encore of Emily, You're Mine and Slowly We Escape simply seal the deal for them. 

Having seen them so many times over the past few years since lockdown, we realise we've missed the incredible transformation they've gone through as the marginal gains each time they go out on the road have multiplied to the point where they're ready to take on the biggest stages. Excluded from the cut and paste middle section of festival line-ups of bands with good agents or links to the headliners who sell far less tickets and records despite the radio, press, supports and festivals they're consistently given despite their protestations to the contrary, Ist Ist have simply shrugged their shoulders, got their collective heads down and become one of the most formidable live acts in the country.

Ist Ist played Wolves, Stamp You Out, Exist, Lost My Shadow, The Kiss, Night's Arm, Fat Cats Drown In Milk, Preacher's Warning, I'm Not Here, Mary In The Black And White Room, Nothing More Nothing Less, All Downhill, Heads On Spikes, Fools Paradise, Something Has To Give, Black, Trapdoors, Emily, You're Mine and Slowly We Escape.

They play Paris L'International (March 12), Cologne Blue Shell (13), Berlin Kantine Am Berghain (14), Copenhagen Loppen (16), Stockholm Bar Brooklyn (17), Gothenburg Pustevik (18), Oslo John Dee (19), Hamburg Hebebuhne (21), Groningen Vera (22), Brussels Ways Around Festival (23), Hilversum De Vorstin (24), Nijmegen Doornroosje (26), Rotterdam Rotown (27), Birmingham Hare And Hounds (April 4), Cardiff Clwb Ifor Bach (5), London Moth Club (6), Edinburgh Voodoo Rooms (11), York Fulford Arms (12), Leeds Key Club (18), Liverpool Arts Club (19), Norwich Waterfront (20), Manchester New Century (October 19) and Whitby Tomorrows Ghosts Festival (November 1).

Ist Ist are on Facebook and Twitter. Their albums including their new Live In Amsterdam release 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

Midnight Gallery are on Facebook. They play Manchester 33 Oldham St (March 1).

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

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