Into the Pit: 076: IAMX – Live at Corporation Sheffield – 16-April 2009

Anyway, last night was my first attendance at a gig at Corporation in some time, for IAMX supported by KIK. After meeting up with friends in a nearby pub, we headed down late enough, so we thought, to be able to avoid support act KIK, who I’ve seen a fair few times before and wasn’t really in the mood to see again.



Corporation, Sheffield
16 April 2009

They were onstage when we got in the venue, and while I was enjoying a drink at the bar I heard enough. Not the greatest sound, to be honest – my understanding is that they didn’t get much of a soundcheck – but that still didn’t excuse the lumpen rock with electronic flourishes that by the end of the set was starting to sap my will to live.

After a reasonably rapid turnaround – particularly with the amount of equipment onstage – it was time for IAMX to take the stage, which they did to a volley of piercing screams from the crowd (which appeared to me to consist entirely of teenage girls for the first couple of rows), even if said crowd only half-filled the main room at best.

IAMXI’ve not seen IAMX before, and a lot has been made by those that have and indeed press articles about the “visual” nature of their show – if by which they mean some shiny costumes, stage props and projections, it was ok, but not anything spectacular. Although it has to be said that the costumes were as flamboyant as expected, and some of the more dedicated fans were dressed to match.

Musically the set opened well, Bring Me Back A Dog‘s staccato beats proving to be the perfect opener, and forthcoming album opener Nature Of Inviting was great too, although both were eclipsed by a monstrous, pulsating The Alternative that emerged from the murk of the previous track like a prolonged tease, and so was even more satisfying when the track finally crashed in properly. Sailor was something of anti-climax, so to speak, following that, but nothing compared to the three new songs played back-to-back that followed it, which in terms of pacing and crowd interest sucked the life out of the set.

IAMX setlist

Bring Me Back A Dog
Nature Of Inviting
The Alternative
An I For An I
Tear Garden
I Am Terrified
Song Of Imaginary Beings
My Secret Friend
Spit It Out
Kiss + Swallow

Think Of England
Kingdom Of Welcome Addiction
The Negative Sex

Although, following the “leak” of the new album onto the internet and Chris Corner’s unhappy comments about it, it was interesting to note that the new songs were not unknown by the crowd – and despite the protestations of many online, I wonder how many will actually buy the new album now they already have downloaded it? For the record, by the way, I have not downloaded the new album, and have no intention of doing so – I’ll buy it when it comes out during May.

There were a couple more new songs scattered through the set, too, but by this point it was otherwise pretty much time for the “big” songs. One of the new songs, though – the one I’ve no idea what it was called – had a drumbeat that didn’t half sound like Killing of A Flashboy by Suede, and I’ll admit I was half-hoping it was a cover of said song, as that would have been very interesting indeed.

Still, there were still thrills to come – Nightlife was great, and Kiss + Swallow sounded filthy (as it should, too), while the encore included two new songs and one old. I really wasn’t a fan of Think of England when I first heard it, but it has grown on me, and sounded even better live. Closer The Negative Sex – probably my favourite IAMX song – sounded great, too, a big, upbeat song that has a big, big sound that would sound at home in much bigger venues than this, and the band throw shapes to match.

And here’s the rub. Somehow, IAMX in the UK at least remain a minority draw, with a smallish but very dedicated fanbase, at least going on the attendance last night. They have the skyscraping pop songs, they have the style, the look, and at some point it would be a surprise if they don’t break through to a higher level.

But for me, despite this last night wasn’t as satisfying a gig as I was hoping it would be. The imbalance in the set meant that for long periods it sagged badly, but then at other points they were reaching near-untouchable heights. Maybe I caught an off-night, maybe I’d heard too much previously. Either way, I’ll be happy to give them another try, and am looking forward to the new album coming soon.

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