/ GOUD16

iOTA: Wolf Number Nine

With his Metropolis-inspired bodysuit, chemical-green hair, red glittery lipstick and a crest of feathers atop his head, iOTA was something of a mech-suited macaw on stage. Supported by his four-piece band Poo Poo Da Blue (not making that up), and with a ripped gimp on props (still serious), he put on an hour of infectiously-fun, incomprehensibly entertaining, balls-to-the-wall glam cabaret.

I've not yet seen a rock show where the music, performance and theatrics blend together so fucking well. Every little touch just seemed perfectly selected. Like when iOTA screamed, "You're hen-pecked!" and then began strutting around like a cock; when the gimp began madly gyrating on stage while belting the shit out of a cowbell; or when iOTA purposely rushed the "antici-pation" line of "Sweet Transvestite" and then snorted in delight.

The antics came thick and fast, and this nine-song set (encore included) took us through a hell of a journey. The original compositions, picked from iOTA's recently-released album, were all energetic, fun, and glam as fuck. But they all felt distinct as the band belted them out in turn, from the bouncy hoedown number "Rainbow", to the industrial and grimy "Get Your Money Out", and to the punchy grunge of "T.M.Y.L.T.M.Y.D".

And in the middle of this camp cacophony, iOTA further showed his range when he introduced the haunting and disquieting "First Swing". Taken from his production B-Girl, a small, gently-intoned song, almost sweet, which pivots in the middle and becomes something frightening and dark; innocence built up only to be stripped away. Thinking back on it, recalling the chorus line, I still get a chill – truly stunning.

It was a performance chock full of personality. iOTA has the charm of Labyrinth-era Bowie, and the range of vocal expression to match, and everyone on stage just seemed to be having a great time with the material. Almost paradoxically, glam always feels more authentic when it's not taking itself seriously, and iOTA and Poo Poo Da Blue are very much self-aware, wrapping themselves up in the silly, stupid, harmless sexy fun of it all. Wouldn't change a thing, and couldn't if I tried. A rare piece of unapologetic majesty at the tail end of the Fringe.

★★★★★