Thursday, 21 January 2010

Life of Live - Icicle Works

The Icicle Works were one of those bands that when I was at poly seemed to be continually touring and would come round to Leeds every couple of terms or so. The second time I saw them they were at their peak. They had released "If you Want to Defeat Your Enemy" lp which along with the first single "Understanding Jane" had seen them with a bit of a revival with good reviews and an almost hit . If you read Ian McNabb's great autobiography "Merseybeast", almost.... could be the story of his musical life.

Live they were at the top of their game, and able to produce a sound that made the recorded tracks on the lp seem a bit light weight by comparison. The track I've posted is the 3rd or 4th single from the lp and live was an anthem that felt like a wall of sound.

Political songs can often when heard out of context seem either full of self importance smugness or can seem trite and simplistic. "Up Here in the North of England" treads the tightrope better than most and is one of Ian Mcnabb's best lyrics full of quotable lines that captures a bit of times

Up Here in the North of England - Icicle Works

Travelling overseas I was accosted by a student
Who asked me where I came from, she was pretty
Children don't put smack in your veins
Lennon cut his teeth here
And the party-pooping left wing
Wouldn't play the Tories game
We're always in the market for an off-beat love affair
With a foreign delegation condescending for a share
Of a pressure cooker spouting steam
That threatens to unload
With a power so formidable
The Russian bear is in the woods somewhere

Television comedians united in approval
The drama that confronts you with real people in real times
I'm only in a band because I failed my own audition
You have to see somebody suffer other than yourself
Right now we're in a jam
We'll call you back when we get straight
'Cos Townsend's coming 'round
He understands, he won't be late
There's lots of food for thought
But not a great deal on our plate
The southerners don't like us
Who can blame 'em seems we're always in the spotlight

We're always in the market for an off-beat love affair
Heseltine came up now trees are sprouting everywhere
McDonalds finally found us and we're folklore in Turin
We used to pull the ships in
Now we're goin' down
Look at the state we're in

Every now and then you catch a band live when they are at the peak of their powers, releasing their best music and when they hit the stage the energy is infectious, and when the 2 hours are up you just know that they will be good again but maybe not quite this good - this for me was one of those times

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