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I Am Giant - Gig Review: I Am Giant @ Islington O2 Academy, London - 26/09/17

11 Oct 2017 // A review by jdiddynz

A surprisingly balmy late September evening in London saw I Am Giant’s first return to the UK for close on a year as part of their Playing with Fire European tour. Hosted at the Islington O2 Academy, the evening was a three band affair featuring Telford’s Grim Fiction, London’s New Volume, and NZ’s own I Am Giant.

I watched I Am Giant’s first London gig back in 2009 and over the years I have seen them in their various guises play scores of shows. I have seen them at their best, and quite possibly their worst, so it fills me with some happiness and optimism to report that I Am Giant are right back on track with a new(ish) line-up, some killer new tunes, and a ballsy live show to back it up.

There was a noticeably warm, positive mood in the room, and after a high standard of sets from both the UK support acts, it was clear to see that the majority of punters were here for the main event.

After a short intro track, I Am Giant burst on to stage with Purple Heart which got the crowd moving and singing along more or less straight away. This was quickly followed up with Out of Date Hallucination and then into their bruising new single Playing With Fire.

This was the first time I have seen these guys live with the two guitar attack and it made for a much fuller, heavier, and textured live sound, especially with some of the newer down-tuned tracks and more delicate, atmospheric sections. 

Vocalist/Guitarist Aja Timu’s voice was on good form and he has clearly spent the time to learn all the tracks recorded by original vocalist Ed Martin, and in some places, sounds very similar whilst adding his own grittier edge. Aja also does very well on the guitar, and where in the past, well-known drummer Shelton Woolwright’s stage presence may have overpowered previous I Am Giant vocalists, Aja held his own and came across charismatic, confident, and visually interesting with his shock of long pink hair and Dave Grohl-esque appearance. He also injected a touch of dark humour dedicating Let It Go to his ex-wife.

Bassist Paul Matthews was all smiles and his seamless bass playing and solid backing vocals were complimented by Shelton Woolwright’s solid, hard-hitting drumming - these two can groove for days and it was great to see the band seemingly enjoying themselves.

Stu Steele rounded out the line up on lead guitar and played flawlessly with a quiet techie confidence which i really enjoyed. He filled in most of the album details that i had previously missed with the former one guitar live approach. 

Sound-wise the venue has never been the greatest, the first two bands where very loud and echoey but, with a change of soundman and some more people in the room, it cleaned up considerably for I Am Giant’s set.

As the show continued the crowds’ intensity grew and the band cranked out big tune after big tune, including Death of You, Transmission and Neon Sunrise with the set climaxing in their biggest track City Limits. These guys certainly know how to write consistently catchy, quality rock songs. 

A successful evening all round in anyone’s world.

Full Setlist:

Purple Heart
Out of Date Hallucination
Playing With Fire
Rear View
Neon Sunrise
Dead Flower
Death of You
Let It Go
Life In Captivity
Living the Crash
City Limits

Review written by James Donaldson


About I Am Giant

With an impressive 70,000+ loyal fans on Facebook and over 1,000 international members of their ‘IAG Army’, I Am Giant have amassed a huge worldwide following with four #1 rock singles and a certified gold album in New Zealand, music videos featuring skate and surfing icons Tony Hawk and Kelly Slater, opening for Slash in Australia, a UK tour with Taking Back Sunday, performances at Big Day Out in Auckland and Sydney, opening for Stone Temple Pilots in Singapore, touring throughout Asia several times, and playing the prestigious Viper Room and Mercury Lounge in the US.

Their debut album The Horrifying Truth, was recorded with acclaimed producer Forrester Savell (Karnivool, Dead Letter Circus, The Butterfly Effect). I Am Giant bound together what they describe as “a collection of stories, thoughts, observations and exploration” into a cohesive and hard-hitting explosion of sound and melody. From the first song Purple Heart to closer After The War, the sharp lyrical themes draw the listener into the band’s growing awareness of mortality and loss of innocence. The Horrifying Truth is pure, unadulterated rock, with its heart on its sleeve and an unquenchable fire in its soul.

October 2012 saw I Am Giant release The Horrifying Truth in the UK and Europe, where their single Purple Heart won support on BBC Radio One as Zane Lowe's ‘Next Hype’ , XFM, Kerrang! Radio and Q Radio as well as hitting the No 1 spot on Polish Radio Eska Rock.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for I Am Giant


Life In Captivity
Year: 2018
Type: Album
Buy Online @ Mightyape
Science & Survival
Year: 2014
Type: Album
The Horrifying Truth
Year: 2011
Type: Album
Buy Online @ Mightyape
City Limits/Neon Sunrise
Year: 2010
Type: EP

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