IAMX fronted by ex-Sneaker Pimp, Chris Corner are one of those bands that are almost as visually appealing as they are enjoyable to listen to. Their shows combine their dark electro-synth music with back projections, light shows and cabaret-esque costumes. So Camden's KOKO with its opulent theatrical layout, deep red walls, chandeliers and glitter balls, was the perfect venue for the London gig on their UK tour.
Support was provided by Isolated Atoms and the brilliant Noblesse Oblige, whose dark, disturbing electro punk set the stage for the main act, building anticipation perfectly. That anticipation grew even further when a huge screen descended to obscure the stage. When it rose again, the crowd erupted and on walked Chris Corner, complete with a white bejewelled Zorro mask and gold chain-mail gloves. It was clear from the onset that he is a showman and knows exactly how to play the crowd.
They kicked off with an unusual opener, the pulsating industrial Bring Me Back A Dog but soon upped the pace with The Alternative. A handful of songs from their upcoming album, Kingdom Of Welcome Addiction followed. And if the rhythmic thumping drums of Tear Garden and the delicate vocals and pure emotion of I Am Terrified are an indication of the album as a whole, this one will definitely be one to look out for.
Now you expect IAMX to be loud, but the thundering drums and pulsating synths made the entire venue shake and at times took away from the vocals; at one point Corner shouted 'I wish I could hear myself', so yes, unfortunately the mix was not quite right. This seemed to have no affect on the crowd though, with those in the main pit bouncing, singing and clapping on cue, led by each of the band members in turn. And it was their well known, now almost anthemic songs like Spit It Out and Nightlife that really got the crowd going before they finished with the title track of their debut album, the seductive Kiss + Swallow.
They came on for a good length encore starting with the screaming synths of their latest single Think Of England followed by Skin Vision, which raised the biggest scream of the night with Corner taunting 'Do you think you deserve it?' They finished the show with President, rhythmic drums and piano it's an emotive tune, and with Corner's vocals spot on and the crowd singing every word, you couldn't help be moved by it.
Despite the sound problems, as a band they were musically excellent and Corners vocals were both strong and delicate. The visuals, lighting and back projections all added to the performance but it's the energy and emotion, the fact that the entire band seem to give it their all that really comes across. It has been said that seeing IAMX live is more of an experience than a gig, and from this performance I'd have to agree.
Photo credit: Robyn Burrows