Ist Ist. Oporto Bar, Leeds. 04.04.2023.

Friday’s Ist Ist gig in Manchester being so good (potentially my gig of the year) I decided to drive over to Leeds to see them again. The setting couldn’t have been more different from Manchester’s 1500 capacity Ritz. Crash Records, Leeds together with Oporto organised an ‘Outstore Album Launch’ for Protagonists – Ist Ist’s third studio album. Buy the album, get a very cheap gig ticket (you could just buy a ticket as well). Venue capacity just 120, yet despite this being a bar, long and narrow, stage just about wide enough for the band’s gear, the sound was fantastic. Friendly staff, well organised. Add to this the fact that soon you’re very unlikely to be able to see Ist Ist in such a small, intimate venue and we had yet another special gig.

No support, doors 7pm, Ist Ist walk on stage at 7:30pm and play a blistering set of 14 songs. Eight from Protagonists spread throughout the 65 minutes they’re on stage. The rest taken from across their first two albums. Despite the minimal set up the sound is superb allowing those atmospheric, swirling synths and guitar sounds from Mat Peters to engulf the room. Adam Haughton’s deep vocals, the often haunting, at other times pounding bass from Andy Keating and the drums of Joel Kay once again combining perfectly to deliver that Ist Ist sound. It’s a shortened set compared to Friday but no less enjoyable. This was never intended to be a big showcase gig. This was small, intimate and personal. “Get your fucking Sharpies sharpened” says Keating as he tells people the band will be at the back after their set to sign anything anyone has brought along.

No encore, just 14 songs delivered superbly to an obviously dedicated crowd of fans. Afterwards Ist Ist don’t just sit behind a desk signing merch. They’re amongst people chatting. No airs and graces, no pretentions, just real people who have worked damned hard to get where they are and who deserve to continue rising up the scale of popularity.


Steve White

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