If you were expecting The Icarus Line to look like, sound like and perform like they did in the old days of “Mono” (way back in 2001), then you’re to be happily disappointed. The band we see tonight at Leeds’ Brainwash Festival (held in an old social club, the Brudenell) is pretty much the opposite of the old Icarus Line. Besides numerous line-up changes, the band is much more mature these days, in both sound and attitude. Their music is no longer quite so angst ridden and bitter, as you can hear on the new release, ”Wildlife”.
Tonight, The Icarus Line took to the stage quietly, until the first song “King Baby”kicked in that is. The band were full of energy, the offstage tiredness had evaporated and they seemed like completely different people, especially frontman/load singer/constant band member Joe Cardamone, whose onstage “swagger” is reminiscent of Iggy Pop and Nick Cave, a mix that works surprisingly well. Top this stage presence off with Cardamone’s skinny shirtlessness, hair covering his face, and you’re bound to leave the audience stunned – which is exactly what happened to tonight’s audience.
The night’s set list favours new material, as the print is still drying on everyone’s copy of Wildlife, “Spit On It” being the only song from their so-far best selling album, “Penance Soiree”. “Spit on It” has barely finished, the second song of the set, when people head for the door, leaving perhaps 30 people at the most, 5 or 6 of which being madly dancing drunks on either side of us. Ah well, I guess rock’n’roll really is just for “freaks and weirdos” after all. The band carries on, unperturbed, Jason DeCorse playing out his noisy guitar riffs, newly-returned Lance Arnao on bass and Sam Fayed on drums – which he apparently had 2 days to perfect their songs before the tour due to their previous drummer “pussying out” before they’d even left the States. Understandable, really. The Icarus Line aren’t “living the dream” yet (I personally still have high hopes for them), having to zig zag across the UK and beyond in a van, too skint perhaps to miss any gigs, but too tired to play some of them (which explains the no-show in Wakefield two days before). The dedication is almost tangible with this band.
The Icarus Line wear their influences on their sleeves, and what better attire than The Stooges (circa Raw Power), a bit of Roxy Music and The Rolling Stones. Tonight, the slightly drunken people dance on through their melancholy offerings such as the Birthday Party-esque ‘tribal’ chanting in “Bad Bloods” or the slow, pounding rhythm of “We Sick”. The audience is also treated to new song, “Slow Death” – it seems the band have picked their best and noisiest songs tonight.
An audience member shouts “Are you enjoying it?” (or something along those lines, in reference to the tour) but he is unfortunately misheard as Cardamone returns with a somewhat feisty “What did you call me?”. I feel that things are about to kick off for a second, but thankfully they don’t. The question is repeated, answered and they move on. Like I said, the band is much more mature in 2011.
The set finishes somewhat abruptly, the band clearing the stage quickly, apart from Arneo, who simply shrugs and apologises when an encore is requested. ”sex and drugs and rock’n’roll, we want more…”
I have no idea whether it was purposely ended like that or not, but it certainly created quite an effect on the remaining members of the audience – they wanted more. 8 or so songs wasn’t enough. Maybe 18 wouldn’t have sufficed either. Everyone will have to hope that The Icarus Line can cross the North Atlantic once again in the future. I have my fingers crossed already.