IAMX @Markthalle (Hamburg): Review

There are bands and there are experiences. Bands happen all the time, experiencing those that connect with their audience, is a whole different spectrum, it’s realizing it is more than just music, it is a forged bond between the two.

Chris Corner, aka IAMX, has delivered captivating performances since his days in 90s trip hop act Sneaker Pimps and he has always been that one of a kind artist you’re used to see at the very top level of artists. But that’s the level where artists are (financially) supported by one of the major players in the music industry; Chris Corner does it without that support and just by being creative and an amazing performer by nature. It’s a performance that balances between good and evil and light and darkness, coated in raw sexual hedonism. And if that isn’t enough, Corner’s biggest selling point is his undeniably impressive vocals. His lyrics complement odd sonic landscapes in a way that is at once beautiful and dark that he translates into poetry of sex, violence, death but also hope. And watching it live is a sensorial treat.

People at Markthalle tonight are not doing their IAMX debut gig either, it’s the people counting double figures on their IAMX gig list (let’s say the average age was between 40 and 50 as well), and that demonstrates the bond, and loyalty, between IAMX and the fans.

The gig starts off with the first song off the latest album Fault Lines, ‘Disciple’, and Chris, his long-time bandmate, the brilliant Janine Gezang, and every industrial project’s drummer the last years, Jon Siren, bounces (yes, bounces) onto the stage. What strikes me first is that Chris is in a great mood and spends lots of time bantering between songs, and makes fun comments about people asking for ‘The Alternative’ – like the lady in the front who wants to trade sex for ‘The Alternative’ (which was even more fun when they finally played it as the song and he signed with his hand ‘I see you, remember what you promised’) – or sampling people doing weird sounds and play it back through heaps of filters on his modular rig while waiting for the next song to start. That was hilarious and makes it even more personal; I haven’t seen this side of him ever at the seven IAMX gigs I previously attended.

After the second song of the Fault Lines – ‘The X ID’ – it went down memory lane with ‘Sailor, ‘After Every Party I Die, the outstanding performed song ‘I Come With Knives’, ‘President’ and ‘Happiness’ before the first encore. It’s impossible to listen to these banger songs without letting one’s body flow to the beat as Corner’s experimental vocal styles are sure to send shivers up the listener’s spine.

The level of emotional attachment from the audience and band alike was boldly present throughout the whole set, and up to this point, there’s just one drawback: people don’t really like the songs off Fault Lines (which by the way is one of his best albums if you ask me). I asked people around me – complete strangers by the way – and they thought they were too slow or too experimental. My thought was ‘Germans, ey?’ (I’m not) But this wasn’t the end.

After Janine had her own meet-and-greet with the fans in the frontline the band returned to the stage and thrust themselves into ‘No Maker Made Me’, a real emotional piece of work that requires quite a vocal range, followed by the awesome ‘Bernadette’, a carnivalesque song about a special woman in Chris’ life. And then the band leaves but just to get back a few minutes later to play the fan favorite ‘The Alternative’ (which has been the last song on all my IAMX gigs).

It was not just all emotions that made the evening so unique, seeing Chris this relaxed and having fun with the fans was something new and comforting considering the tough years he’s been through at a personal level. IAMX is a fantastic live experience and now it also comes with stage banter – love it!


Photos Mandy Privenau:

About J.N.

Music researcher with an unhealthy passion for music and music festivals. Former studio owner, semi-functional drummer and with a fairly good collection of old analogue synthesizers from the 70's. Indie rock, post rock, electronic/industrial and drum & bass (kind of a mix, yeah?) are usual stuff in my playlists but everything that sounds good will fit in.