Gig Review: Ice Nine Kills / Skynd / Lansdowne / Defying Decay – O2 Academy, Glasgow (6th June 2023)

After two upgrades in venue due to delays and incredible ticket sales, INK finally got to play in Glasgow again. Bringing with them both the sunshine and a 3-band support package, the sold out Academy was in for a treat. I arrived a little later than I’d hoped, around half seven, and the place was already packed. Obviously very few people were wanting to miss so much as a moment.

Unfortunately, due to my delayed arrival I only caught the tail end of Thai act Defying Decay. This sucks as, of the three supports, they were the ones I most wanted to see. What little I did see and hear was impressive to say the least. I’m guessing that they had maybe thirty minutes to engage with the crowd and they certainly had the place rocking by the time I squeezed my way to the front. Their final song was celebrated by a venue-deep wall of death, which is pretty decent for an opening act! I’ll definitely be looking out for them heading back to our shores again – or even better, try and catch them in their native Bangkok one of these days! [Further apologies… as they were on stage earlier than the venue advertised in Nottingham, Sean missed the chance to take photos of Defying Decay also. Sorry, guys! – Mosh]

Lansdowne (c) Sean Larkin

Lansdowne followed after a very swift set change, with lead singer Jon Ricci looking like he’d decided to visit Scotland so that he could find the source of all things porridge… and inject it into his biceps. Not someone I would wish to arm wrestle with! The mushy sound in the venue didn’t do the rockers any favours, which is a shame as they sounded OK if a little middle-of-the-road compared to the other bands on the bill. They certainly knew how to entertain, though, and made the most of their short set. This is a band who, with the right venue and crowd, could very much tear somewhere apart.

With half a dozen or so songs to win the crowd over, I would say they did just that. The audience response was loud, and the cheers after each song increased in volume as their set progressed. More than that, the small amount of banter they had time for seemed unrehearsed and was genuinely funny. Very much a sign of a band who know what they’re doing.

They have charisma, they have tunes and the most annoying thing about their set was that I was just really getting into it when they had to say goodbye. They do say that you should leave your audience wanting more. Well, Lansdowne? Mission accomplished.

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Main support was from the somewhat more unusual Skynd. Another act I wasn’t exactly familiar with, but given that the topic of every song in their repertoire revolves around serial killers and mass murder they seem like ideal touring companions for INK. Also the kind of thing I should be really into. Only… hmm.

Skynd (c) Sean Larkin

Skynd are a two-piece, who have added a drummer to their lineup for the live show. Skynd herself fronts the band with a huge vocal range, partly aided by electronica, while Father does the rest of the instrumentation. Tonight he seemed to be in charge of keys/samples and bass, so no guitar in sight on stage. They made the most of the large space they had to work in, though Skynd herself remained front and centre for the vast majority of the set, only really stepping away from the mic stand during the last couple of songs.

The Glasgow audience absolutely lapped it up, definitely more familiar with the music than I was. Since the gig I’ve watched a bundle of their videos on YouTube and enjoyed them a fair bit, but I was left a little flat by the live show. Again I think a lot of this could be down to the sound not doing the band any favours so although I could hear Skynd’s voice changing pitch, tone and so on, I could barely make out any of the words. Which is a shame as one listen to “John Wayne Gacy” on YouTube reveals a very Maria Brink-like voice which I could utterly get into.

Without knowing the songs, and with poor sound quality their 50-minute set seemed about 20 minutes too long. I do like an eclectic mix on a bill, and I do like checking out new bands, but tonight was just a bit too much Skynd for me for my first time. Maybe the stage show just needs something extra (which it may well do if they headline, I don’t know), but less would definitely have been more for me on this occasion. As I said, though, it didn’t stop me going home and digging out some of their music. Also, the audience around me were well into it and the band left the stage to a huge round of applause and much cheering.

After two swift set changes, it was rather infuriating to have to wait ages for Ice Nine Kills to finally take to the stage. OK, so I know we’ve waited an extra couple of years so a few minutes shouldn’t matter, but each extra minute took us a step closer to the 11pm curfew and therefore meant that their set would have to be shorter than we all hoped for. Eventually, after the front of the venue was pretty much choked in stage smoke, Spencer and his merry band arrived on stage and launched into “Funeral Derangements”. The crowd went mental and that pretty much set the tone for the entire night.

Ice Nine Kills (c) Sean Larkin

A large pit opened to my right, and remained active all night, as did the six band members on stage. The effects budget was definitely a step up from Blue Peter project, which is what we’d seen four years ago, with several additional cast members, some axes, a severed head and a bunch more adding to the type of fun that almost justifies the old PMRC scaremongering. Mind you, it’s hard to say if there was more gratuitous violence on the stage or on the dance floor…

The set was very heavy on songs from both Silver Scream platters, somewhat favouring the more recent of the two, with only one “oldie” featuring: “Communion of the Cursed” slipping in at around the halfway-ish point. Around that one, we were treated to horror flick-influenced madness for around an hour, with barely a breath being taken between songs. Again, though, the sound wasn’t as good as it could have been (I tried with and without earplugs). This is a crying shame as I love INK to a large extent due to the layering of their sound, and full use of the three guitars. At some points you could pretty much tell what song was being sung, but you couldn’t pick one guitar out from the others in the mush. Ice Nine Kills deserve better than this!

There wasn’t a duff song in the setlist. From “Wurst Vacation” to “Assault & Batteries” to “Stabbing in the Dark”, it was belter after belter. Great personal risk was taken by Spencer Charnas as he appeared for “Farewell II Flesh” wearing a fur-lined jacket. Possibly the most dangerous stunt the band pulled all night, given the ambient temperature. Thankfully the show didn’t devolve into a remake of The Blob with charness melting and dripping off the stage… Though I’m sure that I’m just giving them ideas for next time.

I genuinely don’t believe there is another band on the go right now who can mix stupidly catchy riffs with intensely heavy breakdowns as well as Ice Nine Kills. Then make it all technical. Then play a faultless live set where they’re all running around. This was a performance, and I’m already jealous of everyone who’ll be catching them at Download in a couple of days. Fingers crossed that we don’t have to wait another four years for them to terrify these shores, and that the sound is better when they are ready to give us more jump-scares.

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Photos by Sean Larkin

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