To throbbing bass and erratic, jerking visuals flashing faster so fast that even the front row were struggling to discern what they were, the white screen of KOKO ascended. Corner stepped out of the darkness sporting a white masquerade mask, golden gloves and entirely black attire. Against the backdrop of hypnotic visuals he launched straight into an energetic rendition of ‘Bring me back a dog’.
Alternately writhing on his knees and leaning into the mic stand, his dulcet vocals giving way to high-pitched… ‘screams’? There’s no real way to describe it. It’s a sort of nonsensical language that conveys emotion, without having to cede to the restrictions of vocabulary. I’m sure that if you’ve heard the song before, you’d know (roughly) what I’m talking about. Recorded it’s compelling, but live it takes on a whole new dimension.
The set list was a mixture of new material, and old favourites; The disjointed synths of ‘Nature of inviting’ flowed effortlessly into the pulsating drumbeat of ‘The Alternative’, while the classics ‘Kiss + Swallow’, ‘Sailor’ and ‘Nightlife’ took on an anthemic quality, with the crowd moving in unison, hanging on Corner’s every word.
There were a few differences between this ‘Back to addiction’ tour, compared to the ‘Unheard Tour’ of December ’08. The show featured a new addition to the set list – ‘My secret friend’, a track Corner invited Imogen Heap to work on. The track, driven by a drumbeat and intended as a duet, worked equally well with Corner on solo vocals and in a live setting. Observant fans might also have noted that ‘Gallop’, the small plastic horse that has been joining the band on stage, had been given a coat of gold paint.
The whole show was held together with IAMX’s idiosyncratic blending technique – the end of one song mutating into the intro of the next, giving the set a sense of continuity and never leaving the crowd in silence. Hypnotic visuals complemented the music perfectly, while strobe lighting turned the crowd’s movements into something rather more theatrical, while Corner prowled around the stage, skilfully navigating the card-board solitaire cut-outs.
Think of England, Skin Vision and President made for a rousing and energetic encore; it was a privilege to watch IAMX paint the town red (and black.)