IROK, Concrete Knives, Shields: London – live reviewLouder Than War’s Keith Goldhanger get’s X-posed to I.R.O.K., Concrete Knives and Shields.

IROK, Concrete Knives, Shields
Barfly, London
27th Nov 2012

“JESUS H. CHRIST ON A BIKE!!!!!!!” – not only a blasphemous expression of amazement but a half decent description of the man in charge of this evenings headline act, without the bike of course – that would be just daft (and he let himself down by wearing trainers -but I won’t mention that).

Y’know what? I ain’t scared of FUCKED UP’s Pink Eyes! I mean….. I wouldn’t want to fight the man. He’d smash me to bits….but he doesn’t SCARE me.

Michael does though.

Michael sings for IROK.

……but first.

We’re here for our monthly thrill of the new and exciting, brought to us, as always by XFM’s John Kennedy who, on a nightly basis, fills our eager ears via the radio with everything new that you wish to hear late at night and who, on a monthly basis. curates an evening of bands that are 90% of the time brilliant (and it’s been going on for years). Most of the time, the evening (known commonly as “X-posure Live”) contains artists we’ve never seen or heard before and it’s been known that a year or two later we end up watching the same bands at big festivals on big stages in front of big crowds – sometimes even HEADLINING (but that was Razorlight and that was an exception -they were rubbish at the Barfly and they were even worse at READING four years later …and anyway we went to see the brilliant Thermals that night in 2003, not Mr. Borrell and his permed hair).

Sometimes we end up watching them a few months later on that music show that the bloke from Squeeze hosts and sometimes we’ve even seen artists who have left their featured bands and then formed new bands to become all of the above.

Then there’s the bands that are now no more who we may never get to meet again to say thank you for being probably one of the best bands in the world EVER! (The Mae Shi).


So without further ado i’ll tell you about Shields. They were shit. Ha Ha! Not really. They sent me a picture after I’d asked for one and I told them once I’d received it that it was a different band I was looking for…. me and my sense of humour eh?

IROK, Concrete Knives, Shields: London – live review

This is a band, another of those bands – that will sit in a van all day just so they can entertain us for half an hour on a cold Tuesday evening (and whilst we’re on the subject, i’ll also mention Big Wave.. a band i saw the previous evening who had sat in a van from fuckin’ TORQUAY to play on a Monday night-before sitting in it for another 5 hours so they could get home in time for work the next morning. KERRRRAZZZZYYY KERAZY Kids! Thank you – your dedication is not taken for granted you know.) Anyway. Shields sound very similar to Manchester favourites Everything Everything, have every instrument known to man up there on stage with them and seem to know exactly how to play them and how to sing the same notes at the same time and make the listener feel all warm and cuddly inside (or maybe that was the first mulled wine of the year). I was particularly drawn to a couple of blue strip lights illuminating the tables supporting the synths….

And its still only half Eight.


Concrete Knives are engrossed in a group hug before stepping up and their cheery dancey DELTA 5 inspired tunes (probably not inspired. It’s me! I’m stuck in the 80’s you know) are immediately placed in the “want to see again” category because sometimes (always?) its nice to be able to sing along with the band. We don’t know the words, however, but tonight we’ll stand here and politely clap along to the bits we’re encouraged to clap along too.

I hope they return soon. They’re from France, which we all know is miles away (like Newcastle but in the other direction) and it’s nice to hear songs sung in someone’s second language. Y’know I cant help but be reminded that the best us Brits can do at the moment is (just the one line!!) that sneaky but brilliant “qu’est-ce que c’est” that South London band Fractures sing in one of their many catchy choruses, in this case during ‘Ride’ (Tuuuuuuuuune!!!!)

…but i digress ….

I initially though IROK might be a rubbish name for a band until I learnt it stood for intergla… Intergalacticickerkeicker…innerclasical…..

Because we’ve been out every night since 1997 we (London audiences) are rather prone to standing aghast with one hand in one pocket with a beer in the other (hand, not pocket), it’s tradition. So again, not for the first time and not for the last time we witness yet another band telling us all off for it.

There’s no way anyone now at this late hour (10 o’clock!! bloody ‘ell some of us have got beds to go to y’know..?) can stand still because the man with long hair in a robe runs around MAKING us all take our hands out of our pockets and smile.

He steals peoples bags and coats that aren’t nailed down and throws them onto the stage so no one can leave and jumps on anyone not shakin’ their funky arses. there is simply no getting away from this.

Musically we have all the danceable rhythms that most bands with more than 3 drummers can muster up with a fair old bit of shouting thrown in over the top.

You can dance to it If you want to.

You will dance to it even if you don’t want to.


IROK went on John’s show a few days before and got him to play some old Crass records and even though it’s taken rather a few years to happen ,hearing CRASS on the radio is MAGIC. Proper magic and not like that station called Magic that no one listens to because, well it’s not actually “magic” at all is it?

This is Oi! you can dance to if you like (well not quite but there were moments). It’s electrifying so we decide to shake up as the old song goes because …er ….this man has got his heart set on you, yes YOU in the audience with YOUR bags in a pile on the stage in front of you surrounded by men with drum kits and keyboards that appear to be hanging upside down. This man spends most of the evening in the audience, singing, shouting and generally running amok amongst the people still left standing in the danger zone, or the Barfly as the sign outside says. The attractive have their hands kissed and those eating their dinner (Bloody hell Camden, you do let yourselves down at times, you know?) have their food STOLEN from them (horaaayyy!).

This is the most agreeable noise we’ve been waiting to listen to for quite a while y’know.

Crass influenced punk rock v The Prodigy if you like?? Well, not quite, but there were times it all came a little close. Most of the time we’re reminded that this would have fitted very nicely on the NATION Records roster back in the 90’s alongside the likes of Asian Dub Foundation and Fundamental.

Next stop for these guys are bigger stages and even bigger audiences brought into bigger venues by The Prodigy. which will be excellent IF ANYONE BOTHERS TO INVITE ME!

That’ll be fun to watch, I imagine: bigger crowds, bigger obstacles, bigger stages to throw other peoples belongings up onto….

Go find “IWORK” – it’s a superb slice of what this band are capable of and a safer way to listen. It also gives me the opportunity to quote an old joke I’ve been saving up since a 1985 episode of Brookside by telling you (check 1-2…1-2) however much this man runs around the room on a wet tuesday night, this MIKE is actually working BOOM! BOOM!…I thank you – goodnight xx

You can find Shields on Facebook and their official website. Concrete Knives are on Facebook and they have an official webpage as well. IROK can be found on Facebook and tumblr.

Live photos taken by Phil Legg. Words by Keith Goldhanger. More writing by Keith on Louder Than War can be found here.

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Keith Goldhanger -- Spent the '90s as a frontman with London noise merchants HEADBUTT - spent the '80s in 'Peel favourites' BASTARD KESTREL. Spent a few years mashing up tunes and remixing bands as HIDEOUS WHEEL INVENTION. Is often out and about getting in the way of things and bumping his head on low ceilings - Will give your band the time of day but will dislike any band that balances full pints of alcohol on the top of guitar amps (Not keen on lead singers that wear hats either).


  1. p.s I got that Invite thanks —whoever you are who sent it …..sorry I couldnt make the Brixton show as I had a pre arranged Christmas Pie eating event to attend –

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