Alternative music reviews

May 7, 2009

Great God, This is an awful place…

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iLiKETRAiNS, Night & Day, Manchester, Sunday 3rd May 2009.

A fortuitous glance at the ILT website led me to find that they were playing the Night & Day as part of Manchester’s Northern Quarter MAPS Festival. Having seen them back in December, I was intrigued as to how the set would differ. We arrived in time to see Sycamore bludgeon the world into submission armed only with minor chords and copious effects pedals, and to see Spokes, who promised much with intricate twin guitar/violin largely instrumental interplay, but were sadly let down by a sound that robbed them of much of their musical subtlety. ILT took the stage in yet another change of corporate image (now looking like pilots crossed with Cunard waiters) and played a set that travelled nicely through old and new. Opening with ‘A Rook House for Bobby’ they then more or less alternated new and old. Standing out of the new stuff was ‘Forget to Breathe’ (at least, that was its working title last time out) and ‘Divorce before Marriage’ which held their own alongside old favourites like ‘Voice of Reason’ and ‘Victress’. There was a rare outing of ‘Terra Nova’, which provided the traditional frenzied sonic highlight before leading into the closing, somewhat anti-climactic ‘Sea of Regrets’, which we were informed will be the next single. So, what a difference a few months makes, and I for one look forward to the forthcoming new album.

I had to laugh when I saw they are playing Belgium’s Dour Festival in July. How apt…

Review by Big Dave

iLiKETRAiNS on MySpace

December 16, 2008

In Still Life – iLiKETRAiNS, Ruby Lounge, Manchester

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I checked back to my review of October 2005, and noted that I had written “See them at this level while you can – you might not be able to for long”. Well, the good news for devotees is that my predictive powers have been proven as accurate as ever, and iLiKETRAiNS continue to plough a lonely furrow eluded by commercial success. Supported by AirCav (who we missed, thanks to my co-reporter’s over-optimistic expectations of motorway traffic) and Jeniferever (most enjoyable Swedish ambient post-punk), iLiKETRAiNS took the stage with ’25 Sins’, and gave us an hour of old, new, and very new, from ‘A rook house for Bobby’, to an as-yet untitled new number, apparently provisionally titled ‘Forget to Breathe’. Hampered by illness, and restricted by an early curfew (to make way for a Metal night!) there was no encore, no ‘Stainless Steel’ or ‘Curtains Close’, but that was no bad thing as it would have been difficult to top the closing “Spencer Perceval”. The band showed their breadth (for me, the harmonies on ‘Victress’ were amazing) and Dave Martin fixed the crowd with steely glint above a luxuriant beard like the lovechild of Ian Curtis and Scott of the Antarctic. Sometimes their influences are a little too obvious (Peter Hammill could claim royalties on ‘Forget to Breathe’) but for me they remain a little-known national treasure; literate, thoughtful, quirky and inspiring. I also wrote in 2005 “My faith in live music is restored…”. Well, it was again tonight.

Also, in the week after the death of Oliver Postgate has resulted in a wave of nostalgia for cheap animation, may I recommend this video:

review by Big Dave