It had been four years since IAMX toured the U.S. Chris Corner had recently released his second album, The Alternative on Metropolis Records. The Animal Impulses Tour showcases IAMX’s latest, self-created album, The Unified Field.
With no live opening act, two hours of recorded music did little to set the mood or get the crowd pumped up. However, there was a lot of socializing and a very interesting landscape to observe at Irving Plaza thanks to the variety of plumage adorning IAMX’s fans. Despite being mostly clad in black, outfits ran the gambit from military glam to Victorian goth with a twist. Chris and the band finally took the stage at 10:00 p.m. From there on out, it was easy to forget the wait.
Chris Corner is a true artist and entertainer. Key ingredients for a live show are stage presence, the ability to engage the crowd as quickly as possible and then hold their attention through the entire set. IAMX, as a full band, does that with Chris in the lead. Each member has their own energy and can be viewed as an individual performer. They are each a gear in the machine and Corner is its energy source. It all works together and the audience is immediately part of the experience. That experience involves an arena quality show, in regards to costume changes and visual effects, in a small venue. Although IAMX could translate into Madison Square Garden, the intimacy and the energy of a 1500-1800 body room made it so much better.
A genuinely talented vocalist and lyricist, Corner doesn’t need all the modern digital enhancements or an army of writers. His songs are organic in their darkness. He educates about the “other side” of life with melodies that one wants to listen to and sometimes dance to. In this era of backing tracks and auto-tune, it appeared that all sounds were created live on the stage. If there were backing tracks they were integrated so seamlessly they were undetectable. Synthesizers, keyboards, guitars, drums and ‘bells’ took the recorded versions of these songs to that level and above what a live performance should be. This was one of those pleasant experiences of live being better than recorded.
The show started with the song the tour bears the name of, “Animal Impulses” followed by another track from the new album, “Sorrow.” IAMX then turned back time and did selections from three previous records. From Kiss and Swallow was the title track. Also performed was the title song from Kingdom of Welcome Addiction along with “Tear Garden” and “My Secret Friend.” “Spit It Out” nodded to The Alternative. Getting back to the new album and including tracks from Volatile Times, they performed “The Unified Field,” “Cold Red Light,” “Walk In The Noise” and “Music People.” The main part of the set closed with “The Alternative.” The band returned to the stage rather quickly for the first encore playing the first single from The Unified Field, “I Come With Knives” featuring the female vocals of Janine and Sammi who also appear in the music video. This was followed by “President” from The Alternative. Again the band left the stage and the theater went dark. Some people chose to leave so sadly they missed the final encore of “Nightlife” which had 100% audience participation.
For anyone who is a fan of electronica and dark-wave in particular, definitely look for tour stops in your area and go if tickets are still available. You will get your money’s worth.
— Kathy Creighton | @Mama_Kath