Salford, St Philip’s Church
17 August 2018
Salford’s St Philip’s Church plays host to Manchester’s Ist Ist. Nigel Carr investigates for Louder Than War with photographs by David Gleave.
Ist Ist return after a self-imposed hiatus to play the iconic St Philip’s church, an imposing Georgian domed landmark that would have dominated the Salford landscape in years gone by. With new member Mat Peters onboard, furious rehearsals have ensued bringing live keyboards and synths to the already heady mix, enabling them to recreate the sounds which have enriched their recent studio releases.
BBC Radio 6’ Steve Lamacq has been playing tracks from the latest EP Spinning Rooms during their three months away. The band finally getting the national recognition they so richly deserve.
It’s that release’s opener Preacher Warning which kicks off tonight’s performance, with its deliberate and brooding intro. The track swirls to its carefully metered mid-section and thunderous close, with Mat’s synths giving depth and urgency to the sound. Andy Keating, dressed like a Southern snake oil salesman, tailcoat & tie, provides the Wobbling basslines.
This is just the entrée to the main course that sees them skilfully manoeuvre through a cornucopia of tracks old and new, enthralling the audience in this sold out, shoulder to shoulder show.
It’s clear that the break has helped them focus on direction. Rats and Things Will Never Be The Same are dropped in favour of new songs such as Exist and the majestic Son Is The Father. Deeply personal tracks like this see frontman Adam Houghton baring his soul, pouring heart and emotion into every moment. They are cleverly interspersed between epics Silence, Night Arm and the still jaw-dropping White Swan which achieves a fuller, more visceral intensity. The set list cleverly allows the audience to assimilate new sounds whilst revelling in the familiar.
Houghton briefly strays into Nick Cave territory with his haunting vocals during the epic I Want To Disappear, and the set closes with the two speed, deranged Diversion with its shrieking close!
It’s clear that the time away has allowed the band to focus more closely on their musical direction and in a way, dropping the madness of Rats is an understandable move despite the encouragement from a few uberfans in this 350 strong crowd!
The new tracks point the way for a more poetically personal and considered approach. We still get the careering bass freak-outs, drum solos and screams to punctuate the performance, but tonight sees Ist Ist move up a notch, fleshing out their palette to deliver the kind of live sound they could previously only achieve in the studio.
Uniquely different from the slurry of soundalike indie bands cluttering the circuit, Ist Ist stand out as one of, if not the best unsigned bands right now.
All words by Nigel Carr© More writing by Nigel on Louder Than War can be found at his Author’s archive. You can find Nigel on Twitter and Facebook and his own Website. Photo by David Gleave. More of Dave’s photos on Louder Than War can be found here. He’s also on Flickr and his personal website is northernfacephoto.com.