I Like Trains
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As perhaps the least 'sociable' day of the week (probably due to its proximity to the weekend beforehand), Monday doesn't usually drum up anything more exciting than a takeaway curry while watching football on Sky. Nevertheless, for iLiKETRAiNS, playing their first Nottingham show in eighteen months, tonight feels like a resurrection of sorts. Criminally forgotten in some quarters, with their 2007 album, Elegies To Lessons Learnt, receiving a mixed assortment of good and bad reviews culminating in their eventual departure from previous label Beggars Banquet, much of the time in between has been spent back at the drawing board re-evaluating their future.
Thankfully, on tonight's evidence it's been time well spent, as their revitalised, somewhat cleaner sound goes down a treat here. Indeed there's quite a buoyant atmosphere in the Rescue Rooms, no doubt spurred on by local five-piece Swimming, whose incendiary set of prog-infused zeal intricately paves the way for the headliners eagerly awaited return.
Having spent the past year as a four-piece since the departure of long serving cornet player and visual artist Ashley Dean, they're now boosted by an extra member for this tour, introduced as "Our friend Ian" on guitars and DAT-assisted strings. What this means is that their already colossal range of guitar-led symphonies take on an extra dimension, furthermore distancing the band from any pre-conceived notions of being just post-rockers with better lyrics.
Instead, there's a new-found optimism that focuses less on the past and more on the here and new. Opener 'Sirens', one of five new compositions aired this evening, embraces samples amidst its wavering keyboards, Dave Martin's hushed tones implying "I Will Stay Here If You Want Me To" over more subtly employed guitar textures than their previous works. Meanwhile, fellow newbie 'A Father's Son' could be a distant relative of Kate Bush's 'Running Up That Hill' thanks in no small part to Simon Fogal's thudding percussion work throughout its elegant swagger. 'We Saw The Deep' is perhaps the closest of the bunch to their older material, the extra guitar providing a steady foil to the song's obtuse build up and rousing finale. 'We Were Kings', already touted as a possible future single, may just be the most ambitious piece of music iLiKETRAiNS have put their names to so far, comprising two separate melodies in one in a similar way to Mew's 'Am I Wry? No', and the healthy response received as it peters out suggests they've a new fan favourite in waiting.
Of their more familiar output, it's left to live favourites 'Voice Of Reason' and 'Terra Nova' to remind everyone present why iLiKETRAiNS were held in such high regard in the first place. 'Spencer Percival' and popular b-side 'Victress', dedicated here to Sol Campbell, further emphasise iLiKETRAiNS status as a most understated - if eccentrically adverse - national treasure.
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