The Icarus Line: Live Review : Louder Than War
Icarus Line 'Far from a band in its death throes, this is a band at the height of its powers...'
Joe Cardamone is the world’s forgotten boy.
But on this form that won’t be for much longer.
Ten years ago his LA based band band Icarus Line came through Manchester full of teen spirit and wild abandon hope. They had the major label deal and were fast tracked to the top. So far this brilliant band has not made the break but they remain tantalisingly close. Several line-ups later and more bad luck than you would wish on you worst enemy they have miraculously arrived at their best incarnation yet with Lance Arnao back on bass, and a native American called Jason replacing the wild Aaron North on guitar.
Just before this tour the band managed to lose a drummer somewhere over the Atlantic with their sticksman pulling out the night before the European jaunt. This is remarkable because instead of buckling like a bunch of spineless rock n roll droogs they elected to grab another drummer when they landed and are learning their set on the hoof. Tonight’s show may have lasted 45 minutes. But fuck man, it was a perfect 45 minutes.
The come on to little ceremony piling into the relentless assault of King Baby which puts us straight into Stooges territory but with the band’s own innate pure LA twist. This is a supacool trip and not retro.
The Stooges are a space space that is much copied in rock and roll and rarely delivered, fuck even the Stooges don’t manage it sometimes but Joe has it in droves. That manic stage personae mixed with his preening and posturing, that look of disgust and pure old school feral cool. What Joe remembers is that at the church of Iggy you have to immerse yourself in the role. This is not the place for poseurs, Iggy was living the music. Joe Cardamone understands this and his every sinew and his very being is taut and stretched in the pursuit of rock n roll personification like a living breathing riff, a riff that is stained with the best of the free jazz trip or the primal rock n roll grunt of the primal hi octane.
With his skinny snake hipped personae there are hints of Bobby Gillespie in there and Nick Cave (whose film soundtrack project with Warren Ellis Joe has just recorded in his LA studio and produced by Cardomone).
The band first emerged in 1998 managing to combine the tripped out intensity of the Stooges with the hints of the dark psychedelia of Iggy’s crew and the ferocity of Black Flag. Live you were expecting them to break bones in their pursuit of rock n roll freedom. There was former guitarist Aaron’s backwards dives over amps and plenty of destructive wildness but always a music that was high IQ in its form and function.
The years went by, they were on major labels, they were dropped, they supported Primal Scream, they supported the Stooges, they were close to the breakthrough and then there was silence.
They have now re-emerged with a new line up, even newer if you count the brand new drummer who truly delivers. Against all these odds this is a band on fire. The set is awesome; this is true killer rock n roll. So few get there these days and Icarus Line are there. In a sea of poseurs and kaers the Icarus Line are the real deal.
The band are lethal. Jason, the guitar player lands somewhere between James Williamson’s nickel as plectrum switchblade guitar violence and Ron Ashton’s tripped out wah wah freak show. The rhythm section is dead on with slow rolling blues bass lines that hint at the ‘Junkyard’ period Tracey Pew Birthday Party dark blues and fast neo hardcore takes on the Stooges decadent rushes.
But it’s very much Joe Cardamone’s show. The lank singer has all the primal posturing of the young Ig, the thrusting hips at the audience- dark- danger of the greatest frontman of all time. He yelps screams and goes in dark and deep.
This is a dangerous and deadly music, rock n roll from the heart of the dark stuff. There are the short, sharp shocks like ‘Sick Bitch’- a seamy tale of LA underbelly laced with an insidious melody, there is the strange majesty of ‘Kingdom’ with it’s free jazz trip stripped down to a dark rock n roll base, it’s long dark groove heading to the heart of the sun like John Coltrane gone, real gone. There are songs from the new album. ‘Wildlife’ like the dripping with sleaze, ‘We Sick’ with it’s great vocals jammed through a fuzzbox that are as dark and intense as anything they have done. ‘Wildlife’ is the band’s best album yet and there is more to come- post gig Joe talks of recording straight away as there is an album of stuff ready to go.
Far from a band in its death throes, this is a band at the height of its powers this is a band on a creative high, driven by the live show that is as deadly as ever. Icarus line have defied the odds and are waiting for you to join them on the last great journey into the heart of darkness of true rock n roll…