• Eve Watson

Ist Ist Wowed at Rough Trade Nottingham Last Friday

Words by Frankie Lee, images by Paul W Dixon

The Manchester four piece played an intimate gig at Nottingham’s Rough Trade as part of their ‘Everything is Different Now’ UK tour, to showcase their latest EP, released in January. They are deliberately playing venues they have been to before and Rough Trade is no exception, following their first visit last year, when they had a support slot. This was their first Nottingham headline show, and they did not disappoint.

Ist Ist took to the stage in typically unassuming way and immediately started their set with the atmospheric ‘Preacher’s Warning’. Newest member of the band Mat Peters layers haunting synthesiser sounds throughout the show, to really add an extra depth the band’s live sounds. This paired perfectly with Andy Keating’s strong bass line, to underpin the song and set the scene for what was to be a passionate performance that had the crowd hanging on their every note.

‘I’m Not Here’ built on the intensity of the opener with Adam Houghton’s deep, powerful voice urging the crowd to feel the energy of their performance.

Mat switched to guitar for ‘Right Before Your Eyes’ – a powerful track driven by the drums of a barefoot Joel Kay which has the crowd all moving in synch to the beat and by the time they reach ‘Son is the Father’, the whole crowd are transfixed, with the powerful bass, and vocals stealing the limelight.

With Mat once again picking up the guitar to accompany Adam and Andy Keating’s bass, the intensity of the performance went up another notch as some of their more uptempo songs enter the fray.

Crowd favourite ‘Emily’ arrived with a stunning synth intro, lulling us into a false sense of calm that is shattered as Adam, yells ‘right now!’ and the band release more yet more energy onto the crowd, who seem to drink it all in.

The drum-heavy ‘Exist’, with its relentless beat, led onto recent single Jennifer’s Lips and the crowd showed their appreciation, whooping and cheering as they became caught up in the passion of the set.

Mat remained on guitar as the band slowed things down with ‘Strangers’, which then explodes with the chorus and the sound raises the crowd with it. Playing with the tempo, and the mood of the room, is again demonstrated perfectly with ‘Silence’, as Adam raised the volume and roars the line ‘we’ve been deafened by the sound’.

‘I Want to Disappear’ introduced a lighter mood to the set, with keyboards evoking an almost daybreak feeling to the intro, that is fortified by relentless drumming as the song’s heartbeat. Adam takes a break from his guitar and focusses on his powerful vocals, his face showing the emotion of every line he sings. The band have the crowd in the palm of their hand and can take the mood wherever they please.

They closed with ‘Undignified’, which also ends the current EP. Another song that is deceptively gentle at first, driven along by the bass line before the chorus kicks in and the band unleash heavy drums and synth sequences on the attentive audience, before they slow it right down and even pause before kicking back in with a frenetic jam, vibing off each other and really letting loose as Andy screams ‘a diversion of me!’. It is as though we I the crowd are puppets on strings, theirs to play with as their sound and drive dictate our moods, energy and desire to be taken along on the ride.

And with that, they are gone – they leave the stage to truly appreciative applause as we are release from our hypnotic trance and transported back to reality.

This band really know how to put together a set that ebbs and flows and it is something special to be taken along on their musical tide. If you’ve yet to discover Ist Ist, I urge you to see them live to truly appreciate their sound and energy. It seems impossible not to be caught up and feel part of the mood. Expect to leave emotional, tired, but very happy.

The tour rounds off with a night at Sneaky Pete’s in Edinburgh on March 30th.

Follow Ist Ist on Facebook and Twitter, listen to them on Spotify and visit the website to invest in some actual hard copy formats online (be warned – their stuff sells out fast!).