30th August | Rough Trade
There is much to be said about the longevity of a band. In the age of disposable media and streaming giants, integrity can become lost in the struggle to churn out something closer to the ever-moving zeitgeist, often leading to a loss of identity and a waning fanbase. I’ve seen this happen to countless numbers of my childhood favourites, but I’m pleased to report that The Futureheads are still the same whirlwind of carefree fun that they always have been.
There is always a sense of community with Rough Trade’s in-store signing events. With an earlier stage time and the barrier between artist and fan lowered, these nights highlight the more personal aspects of the creative arts. As I arrive, it’s heartwarming to overhear conversations between the band and their fans, ranging from stories of the halcyon days of the mid 00s to the reasoning behind cover choices for their beautifully strange acapella record, Rant. Its abundantly clear that The Futureheads possess no ego in their work and obviously thrive off the interactions they have with their fanbase.
This sense of togetherness spills out into their set, which is proudly proclaimed to be somewhat of a requests show. A lone voice calls out for 2005’s ‘Area’, which is comically responded to with a collective questioning of the last time they even contemplated the arrangement. Of course, you’d never notice the cobwebs on the track, as it’s performed with all the gusto and charm that it has always possessed. The driving downstrokes of this band’s catalogue, with all their post-punk energy, have always displayed such a wonderful juxtaposition with their innate ability for blistering vocal harmonies which still, a decade on, never fail to impress this writer.
An idiosyncratic pillar of The Futureheads’ sound resides in the suspense-laden aggression of these arrangements. Thick blankets of staccato guitar fall like needles above a lofty and lumbering rhythm section that leaves a perfect space for vocalist Barry Hyde’s unmistakeable yelps and howls. Tracks such as the aforementioned ‘Area’ and ‘The Beginning of The Twist’ highlight not only these lads’ incredible harmonic chops, but also the tightness of their performance skills as a whole that undoubtedly resides in years of friendship and respect.
These older cuts still bop hard, but selections from the new record, Powers showcase their continued knack for melody and narrative. ‘Electric Shock’ regales a tale of Barry’s near-death experience whilst humbly scrubbing pans in his home, delightfully recounted in comedic fashion (as has become somewhat of a motif throughout the night). Clattering strikes of lightning guitar slice through rolling waves of percussion, building towards an instantly chant-able chorus that could easily stand tall amongst any of their back catalogue.
Closing out the evening with quite possibly the best cover ever committed to tape, ‘Hounds of Love’, it becomes evident to me that as long as this band have the drive to create, there will be an audience clambering to catch their latest efforts. That’s for the merit of their talent and for the personality and community they’ve nurtured throughout a wonderful career.
See the video for ‘Jekyll’ here: