Night & Day Café, Manchester 22/04/2010
By David Stedman
Taking to the stage with a minimum of fuss (in fact, starting to play with no discernable break between tune-up and opening song), I Concur immediately, if innocently established themselves as the shoegazer’s shoegazers. But what the quartet may lack in magnetism, they account for with their relentless, doomy sound (and isn’t this brand of music all about delay-laden disaffection anyway?).
It is fitting that the band, featuring Tim Hann (vocals/guitar), James Brunger (drums/backing vocals), Chris Woolford (guitar) and Toby Page (bass) formed from the vestiges of other defunct Leeds-based outfits, given their unlikely combining of swathes of distortion with Hann’s narrative lyrical style. While comprised of such vanishing individuals that the only way the audience can be certain they are actually here is when noise was coming from their direction, I Concur’s detachment, while perhaps unintended, is not inappropriate.
Pitching at a target between the dark heart of Sonic Youth and the menace of The National, the vocals, surprisingly, are audible above their cacophonic backing. During this evening’s set there are limited attempts at interaction with those present at Night & Day Café, although the enigmatic qualities of certain songs are rather diluted when Hann explains that their lyrics centred on the unfortunate fate of a prehistoric crocodile and cold war nuclear anxiety. Hann has been open about a desire to tackle unexpected themes, however (even a cursory glance through the band’s web pages reveals the inspiration of ancient lost languages and characters from U.S. television series The Wire), and I Concur could not seriously be described as pretentious.
Sustaining a post-punk urgency throughout, songs such as ‘Able Archer’, ‘Sobotka’ and ‘Build Around Me’ are compelling for their protagonists’ sense of desperation and desire to escape the unseen forces conspiring against them. Despite this, there are only two real modes in operation: the soaring wave of melancholic fuzz, and more hope-filled, melodic passages, albeit with unbalancing time signatures that retain an alternative mood.
Indeed, while many alt-rockers have their pop inflections, there is nothing of the kind on offer with I Concur. This does not amount to a negative, but while interesting enough sonically, it is difficult to shake the feeling that their take on alienation is territory that has been better explored by others.