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IAMX LIVE @ SALA CARACOL, MADRID BY MYSTERY FLAME

No matter where IAMX play - Barcelona, Milan, London, Chicago, Istanbul – the audience reaction is always the same: fans describe the concerts as “addictive”, “intoxicating”, “emotional”, “unforgettable”. I caught up with the electro-glam-indie band in Madrid on 26th March 2010 - indeed a memorable date. In fact it could have not been more perfect, as I also got to interview Chris Corner before the concert. The interesting 30 minutes spent chatting to one of the most intriguing and honest artists around put me “in the zone” right away. Here are my impressions on a very special night.

The large rock venue, Sala Caracol, is packed to the rafters and, having swum across to reach the front, I struggle to find a decent spot from where to take a photo or two. Everybody is feeling electric; hundreds of smiling eyes are firmly glued to the heavy brown curtains concealing the stage. It is approaching 11pm and the crowd whistles impatiently and chants Chris’ name. In my mind’s eye I see him backstage taking one last swig of alcohol while retouching the customary red lipstick in front of the long mirror. Then the curtains finally move out of the way… and bang, the crowd explodes into an instant joyous frenzy!

Quite frankly, I cannot even remember which song opens the show; it is one of those brilliant, brilliant nights. Everybody around me is going crazy while I set my mind on taking some photographs. After a couple of shots I am told off by equally furious girls and boys for having briefly sneaked in front of them, so I apologize and back off before I get unceremoniously spat out. So I retreat to one side and creep behind the curtains to reach the steep staircase leading to the side of the stage: brilliant, I am now right at the feet of Janine’s keyboards! Accustomed to watch gigs from the sidelines, I settle down and enjoy, camera at hand.

After a couple of numbers Chris is already drenched in sweat, commanding the adoring audience below and distributing smiles while touching hands. It might sound like something Robbie Williams does, but hey, Chris does love his fans too! Like the rest of the hundreds of people singing and dancing below, I have shifted now from an excited state of dreamy expectancy, to an emotionally receptive, elated mood that I know will keep on soaring throughout the night. Chris Corner simply does that to people… Come to think of it, who else has this kind of charisma in today’s rock & roll scene? Perhaps, in a less overtly sexual way, Julian Casablancas of The Strokes; Dave Gahan has not lost his appeal either but, to be frank, neither of them matches the IAMX frontman: right now, he is the one to love, desire and obsess over. At first sight, one might think it all boils down to his powerful, sultry sex appeal, his clever Berlinesque theatrality, not to mention the hugely captivating melodies of his songs. And yet, when you look at the lit-up faces of the fans singing out loud to each of the simple but soul-stirring choruses, you can feel that those who idolize him are above all attracted to his fragile humanity, his vulnerability, his honesty in letting himself go adrift…

In fact I believe this is precisely the key to his seductiveness. This artist has openly chosen to jump into the all-consuming fire of his own complicated, often fucked up karma with the endearing sincerity of a child and the brave stubbornness of an explorer, leading the way for all the lost souls drifting in the sea of life. This means that the IAMX experience cannot be anything else but a rollercoaster of the most intense human emotions – joy, terror, heartbreak, loneliness, lust, intoxication, strength. Hence when you hear a mass of completely heterogeneous people (Goths, students, housewives, gays in leather trousers) singing “’Cause it breaks my heart/ That we live this way/ All people need love…” (“Spit it out” from “The Alternative”) or “I am terrified, I think too much/I get emotional, when I drink too much…” (“I am terrified” from “Kingdom of Welcome Addiction”) you just know those words actually mean something personal to each single one of them.

So please forgive me, but I feel it is quite superfluous to even start describing the dynamics of the show or listing the superb set of songs from the three IAMX albums (see my interview with Chris for more info), because all that matters is that tonight we all have been touched and regenerated! Of course Janine’s energetic and sexy performance gives a great contribution to the show too: she looks fantastic in her customized cat-suit and the glittery make-up. She brings a distinctive electro flavor to IAMX with her image and the often retro sound of her keyboards. Chris, on the other hand is more of a timeless stage animal, a multifaceted artist who could equally come from the depths of European Romanticism or from a disquieting Future. Dressed as half-clown and half-modern dandy, he does what he needs to do: deconstructing his persona to save himself. Understandably an uninhibited, revelatory performance of this kind can only be achieved by assuming a fair amount of alcohol, but once he is on stage, it is one hell of a release for him and us spectators both! Ultimately, this is rock & roll at its best: a melting pot of art, glamour, sex, drugs, heartache and continuous soul-searching.

(This video is not high spec but gives you an idea: go and see them!) 

Mystery Flame

Many thanks to main-man Reza, and lovely Nadine for kindly providing shelter from the IAMX-hungry crowd inside the merchandise stall! ;-)

For more photographs of the show visit: www.myspace.com/mysteryflameart