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HTRK, Ipso Facto, ROMANCE – London – 24 July 2009

Ipso Facto - Queen of Hoxton 24th July 2009

Ipso Facto + HTRK + R O M A N C E
Queen of Hoxton, London
24th July 2009

Who said R O M A N C E is dead? Well, they should be. This London quartet are an unfunny joke. No, I laughed. I’m sorry. It was funny. This peroxide midget in tight pants foaming about the stage like Pete Burns meets Axl Rose in a glam-rock wet dream. “Picture Frame” with its “take my picture” lyrics elicited camera flashes from stooges planted in the crowd, but vocalist Jamie Lovatt with his Ian Astbury croon gave visions of The Cult circa “Electric” without anything close to “Love Removal Machine” in their repertoire. Samantha Valentine of Ipso Facto lurches around on bass pulling princess-like poses while the rest of the band crash and bang and sprawl across the stage. It’s a living, I suppose.

HTRK returned from torturing the kiddies supporting the Yeah Yeah Yeahs across Europe (oh to be a fly on the wall) to inflict a Berlin wall of fog on the crowd. I don’t know what stinks more – their smoke machine or their no-disco dro… Oh, I’m kidding. If Romance is dead, then HTRK is its lifeless corpse. The intense white haze did much to obscure a flat-lined stage presence that could only be livened up by vocalist Jonnine Standish beating the front row in the head with her shaker than the floor tom. They shouldn’t be a live band. They shouldn’t be alive band. HTRK’s soul is rotten to the core. Afterward, you feel so dirty you just want to take a shower.

Ipso Facto recently trimmed the fat, excising keyboardist Cherish Kaya in favour of the perfect rock triangle. The sound is now suitably streamlined, focussed and finessed — the girls now move like well-oiled, well-coiled machine, except when technology interferes and their replacement to Kaya (otherwise known as the Apple Macbook) powers down. What would/could be seen in good humour is reduced to a hissy fit, the band pushing through the crowd as if they were direct descendents to the Moses family line. Humility and patience, ladies. Despite all, I can’t stress how improved the band are. The brief set was an example of ‘out with the old, in with the new’, only “Balderdash” taken from their debut single remains, introduced by Rosie as “the song we love to hate”, the cuckoo-call vocals and squiggly guitar figure drawing a firm line down the middle that separates the old Ipso Facto from the new.

“Queen Sophia The Last”, a song that has stuck in my memory since our last encounter is apparently earmarked for their next single. An unrecorded veteran from the quartet days, the song has since been disassembled and put together again, this time with a ‘rap’, for want of a better word, thrown in the middle. Still their ace in the hole, “Queen Sophia” swings like a ballroom skirt with a jazz beat and an insidiously slick guitar riff from Rosie, her vocal delivery seductive and sharp. Their sweeping harmonies on Lesley Gore’s feminist anthem “You Don’t Own Me” underline the obvious — these girls are no fools. Ipso Facto are the mistresses of reinvention. Amazing really how maths comes into music. You subtract a member and gain a band.

By | 2009-09-02T13:46:14+01:00 July 25th, 2009|Categories: Live Reviews|Tags: , , , , , |10 Comments

About the Author:

Craig Smith
Continues his music photography and writing at


  1. Avatar
    Matt August 13, 2009 at 2:47 am

    This is the worse possible review of all time, ROMANCE are incredible, enigmatic and energetic. You will soon see about Ipso Facto…

  2. Avatar
    Alex August 19, 2009 at 10:20 pm

    Craig Smith, you have written an appalling review. There’s nothing else to be said. You are in no position to say who deserves to die just because your a talentless nothing who can’t even write without using that poncey tone.

  3. Avatar
    jasperfrench August 23, 2009 at 3:33 am

    This is awful… romance are so good! I’ve seen them three time. Twice with their old bassist and minus the new guy and once at this gig, and I have to say they have come on a long long way… Samantha brings a whole new dimension to this band, she is so sexy! Jamie is a great man of front also… He has a big ego sure, but this is the fun. Sorry Craig Smith, but you need to get a new job. Thankyou.

  4. Avatar
    boriska ascidian September 5, 2009 at 4:12 am

    Craig, you are a joke. You should be put to sleep, and your organs should be given to some appreciative, non-parasitic and reasonably intelligent ill people. HTRK are unstoppable….

  5. Avatar
    Cherish Kaya September 22, 2009 at 5:12 pm

    Craig your a legend. Samantha pulls a face like a wet fanny when playing.

  6. Avatar
    fwɑːˈɡrɑː October 3, 2009 at 5:06 am

    you take for granted the variety of bands and differing performance aesthetic on this night. That such a broad, but strangely cohesive selection can exist simultaneously in the so often trivial space that is East London, at the Queen of Hoxton of all venues is almost unheard of. Craig Smith, do you not feel somewhat embarrassed that the subtlety of gesture that is HTRK goes completely over your head, you probably couldn’t sit through a Tarkovsky film or Blue Velvet either. Liner notes and subtitles should be on display for the likes of you. Go buy a blow up doll.

  7. Avatar
    Ed Tuke December 8, 2009 at 11:58 pm

    I was at that particular show and greatly enjoyed all the acts. It featured a varied lineup, each extremely good in their own right (although Ipso Facto were quite obviously suffering with the reduced lineup). All I can say is that this review seems to say much more about yourself and your own narrow outlook than the bands who performed.

  8. Avatar
    matt January 13, 2010 at 10:36 pm

    FUCK you cherish, you left and destroyed a great band. However now there is a better one, where you’ve got fuck all in the pipelines

  9. Avatar
    Anastasia February 12, 2010 at 5:37 am

    “R O M A N C E will be your new favourite band.” NME Magazine

    “…a band that are defining themselves with a unique sound and energy that is seriously addictive!”

    “…see them in a small venue before they go stellar.” Beat Happening Magazine

    “… mysterious sex appeal and killer bass lines…”

    Craig Smith – who are you? You are shit.

  10. Craig Smith
    Craig Smith February 12, 2010 at 11:30 am

    This still remains my favourite ever live review. Romance fans can eat my shit and fuck off.

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