Test Icicles - Manchester Academy 3 - 13.1.06

The last time Test Icicles played Manchester they lived up to the hype, launched into an exhilarating display of don't give a f*ck electro punk that took in everything from screamo to Alec Empire and the Beastie Boys. It was like the boys from S Club has been transported through time to some Clockwork Orange style ultra violence and been forced to listen to a diet of everything they should have been brought up on and then pushed it through with glorious pop hooks. Tonight though they fell past the point where it all hung together, not that much of tonight's audience seemed to notice

Damn Arms and Help She Cant swim on support were as disparate as you could imagine but it was the former that won through with a Aussie take on the underrated Clor. Everything was in place from the maths teacher chic, the retro synth motifs that came straight outta my first Casio song book and enough rock clichéís to please the hardened Campaigners for Real Rock. All together though it was a glorious concoction which proves thereís more to Oz than the retro sounds of Jet and The Vines. Help She Can't Swim on the other hand, despite having the same name as one of the mid 90s classic indie bands (or is that dementia setting in), are what you get when you put a frontwoman who thinks she's Karen O together with a band who clearly can't write a memorable tune between them. The piercing shrieks are still giving us nightmare's so avoid this band if you respect your sanity.

Designer Magazine met Test Icicles before the show for an interview and from the outset it was clear that tonight they'd fall off the rails. Sammy Danger was stoned out of his head, he had fellow Aussie's in Damn Arms to reminisce about the good times back home and all in all it was starting to get very very messy. By the time they arrive on stage to the sort of screams befitting a Mcfly concert the admission that they suck only encourages the audience to pogo on regardless. The fact that Danger is by now incapable of standing for longer than 30 seconds and the rest of the band are incapable of playing anything over the pre programmed beats for much of the time is what we've come to expect from the 3 piece, but tonight they've crossed that very perilous line and when they say "Sorry we suck" it's not an ironic statement but a statement of fact.

Only previous single "Circle Square Triangle" and new single "Whatís your Damage" manage to stand out as recognisable and for just a brief moment they display why they were one of our favourite new bands last year. When Test Icicles hit the mark on the live shows there's not a band that can touch them for sheer don't give a fuck attitude and the ultimate high. If Doherty ever needed a bigger hit than what he's doing so far then a Test Icicles gig is the place to get it.

Where Test Icicles go next is anyone's guess? Rumoured new members, an impending split after one album and a whole number of illegitimate side projects are spoken of all the time, but as long as they're together the fans will come back for more. Lets just hope they manage to get that buzz back of early appearances

Words: Alex McCann
Photos: Karen McBride www.karenmcbride.com

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