Ruth's Manuvas


My musical ramblings – gig and album reviews, music news and views

The Futureheads: Birmingham Academy 2 – Tuesday 4 May

The Futureheads

The Futureheads are a band with a serious tendency for music dished out at breakneck speed – their gig at Birmingham Academy 2 did nothing to refute that.

On Tuesday 4 May, Brummies had a choice of two bands for their aural pleasures. The Temper Trap were the buzz band who had, in true hyped fashion, managed to bagsy a near sell out crowd in the larger of the Academy venues after just one album. Four records into their musical career and The Futureheads settled for the smaller venue; but with a setlist as long as your arm they were perhaps the safer bet on the night.

Though the Mackem foursome look like and proclaim that they are currently having the time of their lives, their recent road to success has been rocky since breaking from 679 Recordings in 2006. Yet on this gig’s evidence, if it is bothering them, it does not show.

Introducing the first track, Barry tells the room, “Prepare to meet your doom” and the band launch, almost literally, into the title track from their latest album, The Chaos.

Decent Days and Nights gets a rapturous reception, answering the bands request for people to “Put on your dancing shoes you Brummie bastards.” And whether down to pure popularity or real quality, it surpasses the new material.

From the third album, This Is Not The World, we get the pick of the bunch from the first half of the record. The Beginning of the Twist and Walking Backwards both have an infectious sing-a-long-ability injected with note-perfect tightness.

Much of the gig is made up of tracks from the new album – a fact which issues a slight bug bearing moan from these lips to which my plus one answers, “Well they’ve got to promote the new stuff somehow haven’t they?” It’s a fair point duly noted.

The Chaos’ highlights are the blistering, The Connector, Stop The Noise, and latest single, Struck Dumb, which bears the hallmarks of barnstorming guitars and perfect male harmonies.

From the debut, a carrot is dangled in the form of Meantime and the band later perform Hounds of Love – a track that did what Sweet Disposition has done for the band that are playing just a couple of walls away in the same building. The Kate Bush cover still has longevity and the crowd are duly split into two halves to sing the signature intro with the gusto of a football chant.

Throwing open the encore for requests, the band answer with an anthem for relationship quandaries, Skip to the End and the jealousy-tinged Man Ray, which ensues a frenzy.

At times, The Futureheads do have a similar effect to overdosing on coffee – everything gets a little bit too dizzying and fast paced, meaning you long for the occasional Back To The Sea-style change of pace to break up the rush.

That said they are also well-versed on their strengths and personal favourites – heavy, drumstick-breaking fast-paced indie tunes with easily memorised crowd participation-friendly choruses that are unfailingly punctuated by strum-perfect guitar riffs. Barry, Ross and Jaff also use their warmth and charm of Sunderland wit to involve the crowd with banter between each song. On the night, this factor actually meant they had more leeway for playing a larger portion of unfamiliar material than some other bands would maybe risk, having released The Chaos just a week before the gig.

The thing about The Futureheads is that their infectiousness makes up for each of their faults. Another ‘safe’ indie band might find their audience slightly perturbed by a maelstrom of a setlist that lacks variety, but in the case of these four laddish musicians from the North East, it just makes them more honest and likeable.

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