Ikara Colt at the Garage, 11 June 2004
Has anyone really ever thoroughly enjoyed themselves in the Garage at Highbury Corner, surely one of London’s worse music venues? It’s a gloomy, dark, low ceilinged place, hard to get in and out of, and with a bar that’s bad even by music venue standards. It takes a special band to transcend these surroundings. Either that or incredible drunkenness, which must have been the reason I found the Detroit Cobras so enjoyable after the anti-war march last year. Some excellent performers – and those as diverse as Mclusky, Dick Dale and the Yeah, Yeah, Yeahs – didn’t impress here as much as they did elsewhere.
So could Ikara Colt beat the bad vibes of this dump? Err, no, to be honest. It was… alright, but that sounds a little like faint praise. There are worse things than okay, but it isn’t the pursuit of the adequate that drives us out of homes in the evening, is it? The band weren’t bad and I think I had a good time, but I was messily, teenagedly excited about this lot at one time, and it doesn’t seem quite to have worked out.
I’m beginning to conclude they’re a singles band. Those urgent, fast, early singles like Sink Venice and One Note spoke of great promise and they still stand up, but I’m not sure now if they’re not getting a bit slick these days. The Fall influences are there to hear, but part of the magic and success of the Fall is that if anyone ever got too musicianly they were out on their arse. Perhaps Ikara Colt shouldn’t have learned to play their instruments. Or perhaps they should only put out singles. The problem with listening to them play a lot of songs is that you realise a lot of the songs sound the same. And amongst them, the best ones are the old ones, and the ones that don’t sound the same are new, slower and far less interesting ones.
I’m suspicious of this surface sheen these days as well – the new album is beautifully packaged, but sits as yet unplayed on the listening pile, regarded with suspicion. All their things look good. Or perhaps I’m tired of the almost daily e-mails I get from their news service encouraging me to buy the multi-formatted, limited edition releases early and often. Does everything have to be bloody marketed?
Oh, and the audience were a bunch of wankers – but is this even worth recording in the context of a London gig? You know when you take half a step back to let someone get past you and they suddenly decide that the space made available immediately in front of you is an attractive place to hang out so they need walk no further? When someone does this and then undertakes a bizarre backwards chicken dance that repeatedly propels their elbows into your over-sized stomach, it’s a little harder to enjoy the music. One day, when I stop going to gigs, it won’t be because of the music – it will be because of the people.
Support band was Your Codename Is Milo but I’ve seen them before and they were dismal, so I was able to put in some valuable pub time.