The Icarus Line
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The Icarus Line have always been something not of this world. Something post-mortal, rollicking amongst the carcasses. They live, breathe, spit and perspire rock ‘n’ roll. A fuck they do not have to give, but if you try to fuck with them, a flurry of unforgiving fists will be your reward, make no doubt about it – skinny, bony, pale fists. A collection of leopard-print bruises. Something special you'll never forget and, just as you dare to, they pounce back.
Rewind to four years ago and I’m gasping for clean air whilst catching the band live for the first time. It’s all black shirts, red ties, long dark hair, sweat and screams that make a beautiful mess. It hits devastatingly, like pissing on an electric fence. The damage was lasting, with nothing calling itself rock before or since feeling right – it was either bloated like a whale’s condom or dressed identikit, spitting, perfectly on key like there’s some kinda punk rule book. The Icarus Line, for me, were a rock ‘n’ roll year zero, an epiphany in an age of retro rock and try-hard emo hopefuls. Mono was timely: it was cultural shock and awe, a much-needed wake-up call, a refresher that came with a drug-addled stench and a mythology, for a generation who had (at the time) no great wars. Some might say "the real muthafucking deal, yeh hear?" Except you don't, ‘cause some punk is screeching in your face, filling your pretty suburban-fearing ears with snot and tears.
Skip to the Old Blue Last tonight. Enter from the way of the bogs, The Icarus Line...
Minutes later my limbs are possessed, my head swinging, hung in the riffs of The Icarus Line Mark III, kicking ass with bits from album three. A band so volatile they go through band members so hard they have to join Nine Inch Nails as way of retreat. The forthcoming newie, Black Lives at the Golden Coast, is a different beast to the whiplash inducing, boiled bloodied rage of previous outings. They aren’t pulling their punches but there’s an air of Sonic Youth’s daydreamed shoegaze and of Rolling Stones sex-riffery, but their brand of sex is the nasty bust your lip and realize in the morning kind, your back cat-scratched ‘til vertebrae shimmer through. Your girlfriend locked up in the cupboard whispering delusional nothings. Your mother really doesn’t know or care where you are. If Is This It is a warm memory, The Icarus Line still have the retort burning like a raw cock.
Blasting through a short set, the initial fears of Iggy-like remaining member Joe Cardamone propelling himself rocketeer style, just to get people moving, doesn’t happen, but the threat’s there beneath his long vamp locks. He’s every inch the rock star: every slight gesture’s a c’mon, but a totally natural one. Squishing fists to the beat, sliding an empty grip up and down the mic stand, those closed-eyed moments of hearing the vocal reverb reach for the horizon… it’s all there. The effect is incisive but in a barely half-full room above a pub owned by Vice, the trouble-making is clearly elsewhere tonight. If a rock show explodes and no-one hears, does it really exist? Fuck yes! But it’s a half-life tonight, rather than something lingering.
On tonight’s performance they’re still something truly special. Just remember to let some people know about the secret show next time, peoples. The last rock 'n' roll band to matter a damn are bringing their own Rock School to a town near you soon, no doubt. Best lock up your girlfriend now.
Photograph by Adele Thomas
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