Immaculate Machine (March 22, 2008)

I am over the moon, Faithful KMA Readers, from having had the opportunity to see the amazing Immaculate Machine in concert, this past Saturday at the Horseshoe in Toronto. My level of pre-show anticipation was pretty high, as I am a HUGE fan of all of their recorded output to date, but to have actually witnessed the brilliance of this band live sent me right off the scale and into unmitigated bliss.

We got to the venue in good time, mostly measured by the fact that we got a table to ourselves. Anyone reading this who has been to the Horseshoe knows that it’s a fairly small room, and such luck comes only to those who make the effort. We sipped our pricey pints (c’mon, $8 for one Guiness? Bollocks!), and I checked out the merch table, snagging myself a copy of their 7” of the new single Won’t Be Pretty backed with their Mandarin translation of Dear Confessor (Wo Xiang Tanbai). Sweet! Thus sated, we awaited the music.

First up was a band called The Arkells, hailing from just down the highway in Hamilton, ON. You know, I might be jaded in my old age and after having been to so many shows, but I frankly never expect much from opening acts at gigs like this. It’s usually just some local band we’ll never hear of again, up there rocking out for their friends and having their little moment. But The Arkells really impressed us. They were tight, talented and highly entertaining. Their presence on-stage was of a band well-seasoned, so kudos to them. Their music fell somewhere between the Strokes, the Trews, and the Gin Blossoms, and their drummer hits Really Hard. I like that. A lot. I would listen to them again, no problem.

When they were done, I went right up to the front by the stage because the band we’d come to see was up next! I was tickled to be seeing the Immaculate Machine right in front of me!! My lovely wife and Brian were both tired, so they stayed with the increasingly coveted (as the crowd grew) table. From my vantage point, even watching the band set up and tune was just more fuel for my brain, and when they were ready and the opening notes of Dear Confessor washed over me, I was completely ecstatic. It only got better from there. Oh baby!

There are too many highlights from this set to list them all here. Every moment was magic. Watching Brooke briefly use his half-full beer bottle as a slide during the intro to Broken Ship, and the band switching to French halfway through that song was awesome (and a nice nod to their French EP). Too bad his beer fell off the amp moments later, but them’s the breaks. We got a brief language lesson (and the first bit of Dear Confessor in Mandarin). Watching Luke pound away on the drums with controlled fury was amazing from start to finish. Standing mere feet away while the strikingly beautiful Kathryn sang in her powerful and clear voice sent shivers right through me. It’s a wonder I didn’t pass out from the happiness of it all.

Immaculate Machine has something a lot of bands can only dream of achieving – true stage presence. They are vastly competent and comfortable within the music, they communicate impeccably one to another while playing, and it is readily apparent that they are listening to each other, giving each member space to create the sounds each song needs. There’s no showboating here, no one person who thinks they are the Star above the others. There’s no wasted time, no messing about. This is a tight, controlled and completely professional unit. It was a total pleasure to see them in action.

I loved every song, of course. Being the super-fan geek that I am, I kinda wished they’d played No Way Out, but I really, really, really can’t complain. Really! Mind you, their set was too short, by my estimation, but I’m probably just greedy. They played hit after hit off all of their records and I sang along to every word. Judging by the cheers and the exultant faces of the crowd around me as the set went on, the Immaculate Machine absolutely hit it on this night. By the time they wrapped up with Jarhand, the audience was completely in their hand, the band commanding total attention (and truly deserving of all of it). It was undeniable to all who witnessed it – this band is brilliant.

When their set ended, there was the usual milling about on-stage again, only this time I caught Kathryn’s attention and introduced myself. Both Brian and my lovely wife later admitted they would have been too shy to do such a thing, but to me it was an honour and a privilege to meet such a talented performer and, quite frankly, I didn’t think twice about just walking up and going for it. Kathryn turned out to be a gentle, super-nice lady who nodded patiently and understandingly while I babbled for a few seconds about this web site and how I’ve reviewed all their records (with total thumbs-up) and how I thought their set was completely fantastic. I hope I didn’t come across as a foaming-at-the-mouth stalker guy. I might have. But I’m not. I was just so pumped about the show, and to actually meet her was a total thrill.

I could have talked to her for hours, but she had work to do. So I headed back to our table, and there was some waiting around for the next band, apparently named Flash Lightnin’. We decided then, as a group, that we were all too tired to see any more that night, though I’m sure the next bands would have been great, too. So I made a quick trip to the loo and stopped once again at the merch table on the way, where I also got to meet the drummer, Luke! He seemed quite pleased that we liked their set. He said he thought he’d counted each song in a little slow, and so in his opinion they were slow throughout the show, but I sure couldn’t tell. In fact, I would have said that his arms looked like they were about to fall off from all the exertion! Luke also turned out to be super-cool, and seemed pleased that somewhere out there (in these very pages, as you already know, Faithful Readers) their albums had been talked up so much. Heck, I do what I can! Everyone should know about this fantastic band! This means YOU!

I don’t know where Brooke, the guitar player, was at that point but he’s the only member of the Immaculate Machine that I unfortunately did not get to meet on that night. Still, as we walked away from the Horseshoe a few minutes later, I was absolutely floating with the pleasure of having seen, for the first time, one of my favourite bands live and on stage, less than ten feet away. And to meet two thirds of them! Oh my. I’m still giddy now, several days later.

So yah, we left and therefore did not get to see Flash Lightnin’ or the headliners, Ladyhawk. As I said, I’m sure they were good too. But we’d seen what we really came to see, and in my opinion the Immaculate Machine spoiled the night for everyone else. They could have played all night, running through every song they know, and I would have stayed riveted to the spot and not missed a note. As it was, I am content to have had this amazing experience and I hope to have it again sooner than later.

Thank you, Immaculate Machine. All of you are so talented and amazing. Your music fills me with glee and happiness. I listen to your CDs all the time. You should keep playing forever and make at least a million more records. Seriously.

Dear Reader, if this band comes to your town (and they’re on tour now, so they just might!), you should not even hesitate. Get your tickets. Get all of your friends tickets too. And while you await your concert date, run out and buy every one of this band’s records. Make sure everyone you know does the same. And then all of you, listen closely, repeatedly, and I promise that you will have the beauty of Music That Matters introduced into your world. And I know, I know, you always hear about such things but are never sure when you find it. Well, this is it, baby!

Long live Immaculate Machine!

* PS Follow our handy link to Mint Records’ page in the Links section on the left side of this page. Go to their Concerts link and find out when Immaculate Machine will be in your neighbourhood. Then follow my instructions as listed above, and enjoy. You can thank me later!

3 thoughts on “Immaculate Machine (March 22, 2008)

  1. Noah Skelton says:

    Hey this is Noah from livejournal (nandini). Did you hear about Kathryn Calder’s ALS documentary? She has kickstarter page and on it, they have some cool Immaculate Machine packages. I am excited because I can finally get Transporter and also support the documentary at the same time. Anyway, I thought you might be interested if you weren’t already aware.

    If anything, maybe you know some other IM / Kathryn Calder fans.. I only know of a few.

    – Noah


    1. keepsmealive says:

      Hi Noah! I was totally unaware of this project, but I am all over it, thank to you! Pretty much it’s just me and a few friends of mine who are into it, in these parts. It’s a shame – they should be EVERYWHERE! I’m off to look this stuff up post-haste! Cheers, A


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