There were elements of both curiosity and familiarity that drew me to the gig that night, that and the fact that it was the only real option for quality live music in a town obsessed with tired classic rock cover bands and forty-somethings who still believe punk never died. Curiosity came in the desire to check out ex-Old School Tie front man, James Cameron’s new band, the familiarity in the safe knowledge that headliners The Icarus Youth always deliver.
One unexpected dose of familiarity came as opening band Adepto Futui, who I must confess I though was going to be a solo artist, took the stage and a recognisable face loomed large amongst their ranks. Many years ago I used to watch an acoustic blues duo called Apple (if memory serves) and it was none other than guitarist Shed Judd (owner of the best white ‘fro since Jeff Lynn) who was strapping on an electric six string and preparing to lead his band through their debut gig, and what a gig it was too. Rocked out blues is a pretty hit or miss affair. Mostly it is the last bastion of mulletted, rock rhythm guitarists who mistakenly believe that just because the two genres share the same musical alphabet they can easily mutate from one to the other. Wrong! Blues is an attitude, a feeling, and a voice – not something you can assemble like the colours on a Rubik’s Cube. Adepto Futui, however, fired through a set of songs that not only did them proud, but that would stand up to scrutiny from the drinking dens of the Mississippi Delta to the smoky clubs of Chicago and everywhere in between.
One of the main selling points, having taken for granted the quality the songs, was that the band was top of its game. Too many bands are happy to be a beat and a lead guitar but here were a band of musical equals, tight rhythms and cascading piano holding their own allowing the guitar to do it’s job from blistering riffs, staccato jabs or to drop out altogether. When you have a band that is that on the groove, it just works. Local “blues” pretenders take note!
I get the feeling that if James Cameron could clone himself he would be able to just form a band by himself and take all the musical roles, such is his musical dexterity and command of technology but that would be a lonely and indulgent existence and as Weatherstorms ran through their set, it’s clear that making music with like minded individuals is the right vehicle for him. There were touches of the euphoric sound that flavoured his previous band but here was something more chilled but no less as impressive. Switching between keyboards, acoustic guitar and vocals and aided and abetted by only drums and vocals, he still showed his ability to blend delicate soundscapes that build into massive pieces of sonic architecture and then drop back into quiet, hushed atmospheres. Curiosity satisfied, this is a band I will be seeing many more times.
The local connection of the headline band comes from the much hailed Kulucci March, a band that seemed to arrived fully formed on the local scene, made massive waves and then disappeared as abruptly as they had arrived. It did seem inevitable that some of those musicians would rise again, and The Icarus Youth is proof of that. Mixing big harmony indie, rock drives and subtle urban attitudes, their “Indie Rock and Rhyme” as they describe it reflects everything that is cool and contemporary. Guitars play intricate lines but stay just the right side of the mathy bandwagon, preferring to wander between melodic hooks and big rock power chords whilst the bass lines add weight and occasionally unexpected funkiness to the proceedings. Across the top of the music, straight vocal deliveries mutate into quirky rap and then get driven to their logical conclusion as everyone piles into to create big close harmony choruses. As I said, The Icarus Youth encapsulate everything that seems so now, in their music, image and attitude: utterly listenable, eminently watchable and a fascinating prospect who seem to have a bright future ahead of them.