iLiKETRAiNS - Ruby Lounge Manchester - 26.10.10

The relatively large crowd gathered at Manchester’s Ruby Lounge are in for a treat tonight: three superb indie/post-rock bands are gracing the stage, with the main attraction, iLiKETRAiNS, promoting a new album as well as performing some old favourites.

First up are Heat vs. Light, a four-piece (five-piece when joined briefly by a lady with a trumpet, to lovely effect) from Burnley. And they must be doing something right, because in my experience it is no mean feat for the first support on the bill to extract anything more than polite and muted applause from an audience, and there are cheers for Heat vs. Light left, right and centre. Their down tempo, dreamlike soundscapes provide an excellent backdrop for interaction between melodic guitar, keyboards and samples. Their lead singer (whom shall sadly remain anonymous, as I do not have his name at my disposal) has an exceptional voice, and is note-perfect throughout the set. Superb stuff.

Up next are Sketches, and, on a highly unprofessional note: ladies, Sketches are absolute indie eye-candy, and I can’t help but think that I would have thoroughly enjoyed their set had their music just been average. However, their music was anything but average, and the band provides a set filled with accessible indie/post-rock tunes featuring wonderful harmonies between the two vocalists, a stand-out song being their single ‘Bleed Victoria’. To top it all off, they conclude with an epic finale packed full of noises I had no idea guitars could make.

Then we have Leeds’ prodigal sons, iLiKETRAiNS, an intriguing group of individuals who blend indie and post-rock seamlessly. Having discovered them at a small gig at Lancaster’s library, I was instantly hooked by lead singer David Martin’s mesmerising voice; unique, but with notable hints of the late Ian Curtis’ deep, haunting vocals, as well as the slightly operatic and hugely indie-friendly sounds of Editors’ Tom Smith. Their first studio album, 2007’s ‘Elegies to Lessons Learnt’, is an unusual concept album, detailing, as the title suggests, some of history’s prolific disasters, and the band are often accompanied live by background visuals reflecting the meaning behind the songs they play. All in all, they have a tendency to create an unforgettably distinctive performance wherever they go, and tonight is certainly no exception. The band have returned with a brand new album, released on the 25th of this month and entitled ‘He Who Saw the Deep’, a phenomenal LP which transfers to the stage incredibly well. iLiKETRAiNS are joined tonight by Kyte’s Scott Hislop on drums, a temporary replacement for the band’s usual drummer Simon Fogal, whom, due to a broken leg, must watch his band with the rest of the audience and make do with pulling faces at the frontman, to everyone’s amusement. Kicking off with a dark rendition of ‘When We Were Kings’, enigmatic singer Martin’s vocals make for a hypnotic start to what becomes a flawless set. Songs such as ‘Hope Is Not Enough’ and crowd-pleaser ‘Terra Nova’ conjure up remnants of old-school Godspeed You! Black Emperor-style atmospheric and haunting post-rock, with some incredible harmonies from David Martin and the band’s bassist and vocalist, Alistair Bowis. As a four-piece, iLiKETRAiNS are solid, delivering one menacing slowburner after another, culminating in an absolutely astounding version of ‘Sea of Regrets’ from their new album, which leaves me with a spot of tinnitus in my right ear, something I could’ve done without, but I think the band’s set makes up for it. So, to conclude what has been a hugely positive review all round, what more can I say? iLOVETRAiNS. (Sorry.)

Words: Ashley-Jane West


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