Live Review: Iceage @ The Lexington, London 8 January 2016

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Danish quartet plough into London for an evening of country tinged punk.

There is something special about the Lexington. The 200 capacity venue situated on North London’s Pentonville Road is one of those small venues that breaks down the barrier between the band and the audience. There is no fancy dry ice or a team of over-eager security guards. The bands set up and break down their own equipment and you are likely to bump into the lead singer of the headlining band in the strictly policed smoking area outside. It has a great vibe that a lot of big venues can’t provide, making it perfect for a band like Iceage, the Danish punk rockers from Copenhagen.

There were two opening bands before Iceage took to the stage, first came Fex Urbis who despite a sparse crowd and technical difficulties so severe the lead singer asked the audience if anyone had a spare guitar, still managed to put on a good show. They filled their set with some energetic indie-punk delivered by a charismatic lead singer who drew the crowd in both literally and figuratively.

Next up were The Lowest Form, who played some of the most face-melting, tinnitus-inducing hardcore punk I’ve ever heard for 20 minutes straight. No small talk or introducing songs, just a wall of noise produced by an insane rhythm section, dual guitars and a singer with lungs the size of the Titanic. It was one of those opening sets from a band that you want to last longer even at the risk of leaving the venue without your hearing fully intact.

After a short DJ set all four members of Iceage nonchalantly walked on stage as if they had just got out of bed and were walking into their rehearsal room on a gloomy Monday morning. After a little tinkering and tuning they launched into their opening number. It was a ferocious new song that had a heavy country and blues influence, much like some of the material on their last album, ‘Plowing Into The Field Of Love’. It was like they turned on a switch and suddenly went from bored and jet lagged to primal punk rock beasts and I knew we were in for a good night.

As the show progressed It was impossible to divert your gaze from lead singer Elias Bender Rønnenfelt. With most bands, you have no choice but to look at the lead singer as they are front and centre, but there is something about Elias that draws you to him. He had the dark and welcoming energy of a cult leader as he stalked the stage with a glassy eyed glare gently nodding his head to the beat.

However, he doesn’t stay still for long. Like a hybrid of Birthday Party-era Nick Cave and Iggy Pop he flings and flails himself across the stage with no regard for his body, falling on the floor and members of the audience without missing a note.

The band continued to play new songs that outshone the old material. One highlight being a song possibly titled ‘I’m Ready To Make A Baby’ that has a charging rockabilly riff the Gun Club would be proud of and hilarious lyrics that are either about actually wanting to reproduce and bring a child into the world or about just really wanting to get laid. Another new highlight saw Elias reading lyrics from a notebook in-between sips of wine and proclaiming everyone in the world to be a criminal.

Although Iceage played a lot of new material there were still flashes of old. Songs such as ‘Forever’ and ‘Plowing Into The Field Of Love’ had the audience moshing while humming the song’s melodies while ‘The Lord’s Favourite’ saw an endless amount of crowd surfing and such chaos that the band’s manager had to literally pull Elias from the wreckage mid-song as he continued to sing the anthemic chorus.

An attribute of a great show is time flying by so quickly that an hour feels like ten minutes which is why I was shocked as Iceage said their goodbyes, I could of watched them play for another two hours. The band most likely felt the same way because they didn’t wait for a rapturous applause and came back out for an encore seconds after leaving the stage. “We’re only going to do one” slurred Elias as the opening chords to ‘Ecstasy’ drove the crowd into a frenzy.

After seeing the response that ‘Ecstasy’ received the band went back on their word and treated the crowd to another encore. ‘White Rune’ exploded through the speakers and more hectic moshing ensued as sweaty bodies, smartphones and shoes flew through the air. Elias as well as his microphone chord got lost in the carnage. He managed to plug it back in for the last few lines and the band departed for the final time.

It was a night of perfection; just the right amount of chaos in a perfect venue for a band on top of their game. Whether it’s balls to the wall hardcore punk, twangy psychobilly or straight up and down post-punk, Iceage put their heart and soul into every song and build an atmosphere that is so electric it’s almost tangible, like a thick fog or plume of smoke. Experience Iceage live and you have experienced one of the best bands around today.

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