Independent Venue Week 2022. Ist, Ist Play 33 Oldham Street, Manchester. UK. 2/2/22




“Loud Music, Small Venue and a Large Crowd. What’s not to like? This Would Be a Good Night’


With two ‘see the whites of your eyes’ Independent Venue Week shows sold out in about nine minutes (the first selling out in under 60 seconds) tonight’s 33 Oldham Street gig is Ist Ists most exclusive show in years. Situated a stone’s throw from the legendary Night and Day venue, 33 Oldham Street has been around for a couple of years now, but this my first time here. It’s a great, small, friendly bar with a newly refurbished live room on the second floor.

When I arrive and set up at the front of the low stage it’s already very busy and I’m thankfully told by a local music icon “You might not want to stand there, as it’ll be really, really loud”. Loud music, small venue and a large crowd. What’s not to like? This would be a good night.

I grab a quick look at a setlist and it’s similar to the last time I saw the band in December. Incidentally the first time I’d managed to see the band since hearing the mind-blowing ‘Exist’ a few years ago. I may have to have a word though, as again, ‘Exist’ is not on the setlist. Still, there’s plenty of other shamelessly iconic songs to look forward to from both the band’s albums.

With a few quick blasts from the smoke machine, the slow throbbing keyboard of “Wolves” opens the set. It’s followed by ‘Fat Cats Drown in Milk’, Adam’s “Do you love me anymore?” vocal perfectly matching Joel’s flawless drumming.  I look around and with no space to move, the crowd are only able to rock in rhythm as the pace increases with the vigorous bassline and drums of ‘Watching You Watching Me’.  It’s not going to be easy to photograph tonight, but when a band of Ist Ists quality decide to play an intimate gig I’m just glad I’m here.



Resplendent in a ‘Slowdive’ t-shirt, Mat effortlessly converts from keyboardist to guitarist throughout the set and provides the measured, aching keyboards for next song ‘Discipline’. I’m feeling Andy’s foreboding bass in my stomach now as it resonates around the small, smoke-filled room.

I’m certain lots of thought and practice has gone into Ist Ist setlists and it shows.  The band are masters of them. The constant variation in tempos keeping the sardine-like audience both frantically nodding and transfixed in equal measure.  The faster ‘You’re Mine’, ‘Emily’, ‘Watching you, watching me’, ‘The Waves’, ‘It stops where it starts’ effortlessly combining with ‘Slowly we escape’, ‘Listening through the walls’ and ‘Preacher’s warning’.

The bands tour before Christmas has made them flawless live and I’m really struggling to think of my favourite song of the night. ‘It stops where it starts’ just shades ‘Listening through walls’, both from the bands amazing latest album ‘The art of lying’.

Ist, Ist are shamelessly dark and atmospheric with a sound that bridges the gaps somewhere between the post punk of Joy Division, the electronic sound of New Order and the song writing prowess of The Cure. Tonight, it crossed my mind that this is what Joy Division might have sounded like on their third, sadly unrecorded album. A big statement. Ist Ist really are that good though. It’s only February, but this could be my gig of year. Watch this space.





Fat Cats Drown in Milk

Watching You Watching Me


Nights Arm

A New Love Song

Preacher’s Warning

I’m Not Here

If It Tastes Like Wine


Middle Distance

Fool’s Paradise

The Waves

Heads on Spikes

Listening Through the Walls

It Stops Where It Starts

You’re Mine


Extreme Greed

Slowly We Escape