– Gorilla, Manchester –

Let’s get this out of the way upfront: I have the biggest man crush on Iceage front man Elias Bender Rønnenfelt. He’s possibly the most beautiful man I’ve ever seen in real life, and his brooding, pouting, strong silent type stage persona (and off stage persona if his interviews are anything to go by) is electrifying to watch. Seriously, you could cut yourself on his cheekbones; he’s the archetypal Copenhagen hipster and he’s absolutely magnetic on stage. He’s the best frontman this side of Nick Cave, and to see Iceage live is to be mesmerised by his performance.

The last time I saw them was in the relatively tiny Night & Day, and Rønnenfelt was pretty much all you could see for the entire performance. Now, in the upgraded Gorilla, the band are lined up across the stage and include a saxophonist and violinist amongst their number, as well as the standard drummer, guitar and bass. Here in support of their sky-scrapping new album Beyondless, Rønnenfelt saunters on stage last swigging from a can of Stella, beige suit, looking for all the world like the biggest rock star in the world. Launching into ‘Hurrah’ from the new LP, in which Rønnenfelt repeatedly states “we can’t stop killing and we’ll never stop killing and we shouldn’t stop killing, hurrah”, the menace and vitriol oozing out of  him as he stalks back and forth across the stage. The crowd love him too, when he comes anywhere near the front of the stage people grab at him and hold their hands out to be touched, the kind of idolisation I haven’t seen at a gig for a long while.

‘Painkiller’, without on album guest Sky Ferreira, makes you wonder why this band aren’t absolutely huge, a soaring, melodic, sing along anthem that should be all over the radio. Indeed all the new album tunes sound impressive, with ‘Take It All’ and ‘Plead the Fifth’ sounding particularly brilliant. The crowd take a few songs to warm up, but as the band rip into the raucous, almost hoe-down ‘The Lord’s Favourite’, the stand out track from their excellently named last album Plowing into the Field of Love, they’re fully on board, fist-aloft moshing their way through every song (when they’re not grabbing for Elias’ attention). Rønnenfelt has to lose his suit jacket, revealing a shirt already drenched in sweat, as he sways, dances and broods his way through the whole set. The lights cast him and the band in various blood reds, pinks and turquoise, and strobe for when the band really kick in, creating a cacophony of noise that rattles the teeth, sax honking and violin shrieking.

Older songs like the unbelievably good ‘Ecstasy’ and ‘Morals’, all angry young punk and bile, are rapturously received, but the best is saved for last. ‘Catch It’ is the standout centrepiece from Beyondless, and is undoubtedly one of the best songs of the year. It’s slow, patient and absorbing, building to the big “come make me real” chorus, Rønnenfelt almost leaning all the way into the crowd, looking tormented and full of passion, asking us to “catch it, catch it’” over and over until it’s almost overwhelming. There’s the ol’ ‘false stop’ pause, before the band rip into their finale, all members thrashing at their instruments whilst Rønnenfelt staggers around the stage moaning away, before the end comes for real, a quick “we are Iceage, thank you” from the frontman, his only words other than song titles throughout the gig, and they’re gone, no encore, no relenting to the crowd’s thirst for more. It’s been an uncompromising, thrilling evening, with a performance to remember from Rønnenfelt and his band. I think I need a cold shower.

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