The Icarus Line
The Harley, Sheffield
18th Nov 2013
The Icarus Line are beginning to make a name for themselves as one of the best and most uncompromising of live bands out there at the moment. Reason enough, we feel, for our second review of them in 3 weeks.
A confession: I bought The Icarus Line’s Penance Soiree off eBay a few years ago and for some silly reason I completely ignored it. As this year’s incandescent Slave Vows attests though, more the fool me. After missing out on the Manchester gig through a similarly idiotic oversight, I travelled over a wintry Pennines after some intense evangelizing from a friend who saw them at a recent Leeds show.
After an intense ten minutes of feedback squall, The Icarus Line’s lead singer, Joe Cardamone makes for the stage, neatly folding his large parka as they explode into a searing Laying Down For The Man. Cardamone is an entirely captivating presence; combative and confrontational and not afraid of rubbing a fistful of salt in the collective wound. After a less than charitable reception recently at the hands of an unwelcoming House of Blues crowd, impatient to wait for The Cult (presumably unwilling to listen to anybody who is not somebody from Bradford with an overbearing sense of Jim Morrison), The Icarus Line responded in kind with a full set of discordance and anger with Cardamone taking the audience to task, forgoing their usual setlist. Embodying the unchained, contorted spirit of Iggy Pop, Nick Cave (minus the tedious Southern Baptist Preacher schtick) and Alan Vega, Cardamone commits fully to the idea whilst never slipping into lame rock n’ roll parody.
The James Williamson Stooge-wah assault continues unabated with the charmingly titled ‘Rat’s Ass’, as the band seem unperturbed and unbowed by the meagre Sheffield audience. An extended Suicide-esque repeat-o groove of No Money Music is a highlight of the night, as echoed vocals fill the room with a dizzying mantra. There is a palpable frisson as the singer mingles sinisterly amongst a wary crowd, threatening to explode at a moment’s notice. I’m put in mind of the unease of Alan Vega and his chain swinging.
‘No laughing!’ Cardamone barks at the audience insouciantly as a conversation floats over the lull between songs. The respite doesn’t last as Don’t Let Me Save Your Soul recalls the metronomic march of Five To One by the Doors and the epic dirge of Dark Circles connects directly into the tombstone psych groove of prime time 13th Floor Elevators.
All in all, you should take this as a cautionary tale: the next time The Icarus Line play near you, make sure you go. It’ll be your loss if you don’t. Really.
All words by Brett Savage. More work by Brett can be found at his Louder Than War author’s archive.