I LIKE TRAINS – LIVE IN MANCHESTER! WHAT HAPPENED?
I’m delighted to say that tonight’s gig is right up there with my favourite gigs of 2022.
First up Crimewave:
Manchester-based musician Jake Wilkinson describes the world of Crimewave as surreal, fractured and distorted. Imagine dropping hip-hop, industrial and dance into a blender, adding some tech to chop and shape, setting the Wall Of Sound dial to 11 and seeing what comes out the other end, and you have a fair idea of what Crimewave are about. Those young upstarts The Jesus and Mary Chain could learn a lot here.
It’s oldskool shoegaze with a 2.0 tag, meeting contemporary electronica whilst sounding like there MUST be more performers up there than you can actually see – sound-wise, there’s a LOT going on. I’m pretty sure it WAS just Jake up there with a Fender Squier, a Focusrite, a laptop and one of those whizzy things with coloured pads (more research required – Ed.) that takes a vigorous amount of pounding from a busy index finger throughout tonight’s set, but I could be wrong. OK, so I AM wrong.
The set, accompanied by a compelling video backdrop, pounds along at a ferocious rate, and though it might not have been your first thought to put these artists from very different genres on the same bill, somehow it works. The crowd are attentive and appreciative – again, it’s all about experiencing something new and Crimewave are most definitely that.
Think My Bloody Valentine, think Aphex Twin, maybe a smattering of Underworld, all liberally dusted with Strange Bones and you maybe somewhere near to getting what went on tonight. Oh, and for the fashionistas amongst you Jake also sported an excellent pink beret, though the jury is still out as to whether it was raspberry or not. I like Crimewave and will like them even more in 6 months’ time (a prize for anyone who can guess who I’m paraphrasing..?)
Crimewave played 50 Rapid, Ultraviolent Crime, Disposable, Haemoglobin, Carcinogen, Expendable, When The Sun Hits (Slowdive cover), Trenches, an as yet untitled new song and concluded with Barcode.
I Like Trains have been a stalwart of the music scene for a surprisingly long time. Formed in Leeds, their website describes them as “Miserable since 2004” and whilst they have a certain sound reminiscent of the likes of IST IST with a smattering of The Cure and LCD Soundsystem, with a sometimes-spoken delivery from frontman David Martin, hopping between Mark E. Smith and Yard Act, it’s a misery tinged with rage at the world around us but with an optimism that refuses to be extinguished.
Many of their songs have a historical theme – Terra Nova is the story of Captain Scott’s doomed 1921 Antarctic expedition, Beeching namechecks the infamous Dr Beeching responsible for closing a huge portion of our railways back in the 60s, A Rook House for Bobby documents the life of troubled chess grandmaster Bobby Fischer and tonight’s set closer is Spencer Perceval, who was famed for being the only British prime minister to be assassinated (don’t get me started) Current single “The Spectacle” also featured tonight, bids a not so fond farewell to a certain Mr Johnson, though at the rate we’re currently racing through PMs, they may have to get back to the studio sometime soon.
As an aspiring gig photographer, the temptation is always to keep on shooting, to try to get that perfect shot, but as I wasn’t subject to that pressure last night, I was able to put the camera away and just listen and watch, and for this I was grateful. I Like Trains’ music deserves nothing less than your absolute attention. With a definite political edge and deep concerns about our reliance on technology amongst other things, here are a group of friends comfortable in each other’s company and with many messages to deliver. David Martin front and centre, guitarist and vocalist Guy Bannister, bass man Alistair Bowis, Simon Fogal on drums and Ian Jarrold on guitar have an extensive back catalogue from which to select for tonight’s set, culminating in most recent album 2020’s Kompromat (Russian for “Compromising material”, incidentally), but you can SpotiTube all that for yourself, dear reader – this isn’t the place and I don’t have the space.
According to the setlist (on which I already have my beady eye, with an empty spot on my wall in mind) the last song of the night is “The Truth” and it’s a piece that genuinely leave me slack-jawed. Martin slips uneasily into the lyrics from “Football’s Coming Home” and New Order’s “World in Motion”, but things are not quite as they seem, as we are reminded of the darker statistics of the lives lost in a scramble to deliver a very different World Cup to what we’re used to. He then proceeds to draw a bundle of hand written notes from his pocket, reading each out before crumpling it into a ball and throwing it into the appreciative crowd. Mine reads, “The truth is an unmade bed, the truth works in mysterious ways, why I guess we’ll never know”. There are many versions of the truth, and as we’ve all been made painfully aware over the last few years, it’s often a very rare commodity. I lose count of how long it lasts, maybe 10 minutes or more, but the performance is so utterly spellbinding that you could listen to it all over again.
The band return triumphantly to the stage to suggest that ILT merch would make a splendid Christmas gift before delivering a thunderous Spencer Perceval that amazingly manages to top The Truth.
So, I guess I answered my own question. You CAN experience something totally new and be drawn in, spun right round (possibly like a record baby) and come away with a new favourite band. Of course, that’s entirely up to you, but I genuinely don’t think you’ll be disappointed. I Like Trains now, too.
I Like Trains played Steady Hand, Desire, Dig In, Mnemo, Prism, The Spectacle, Helsinki, Beeching, Man of Convenience, Patience, A Rook House for Bobby, Terra Nova, New Geography and The Truth, returning for an encore of Spencer Perceval.