I live in Salford. I go to gigs. I write about the gigs. And other stuff...

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

The Futureheads, Manchester Academy, 9th May 2005

There's something strange going on tonight. We enter the venue towards the end of the opening band's set and hear screams, the scream of the Busted fan returned. I can't remember the name of the band but the one song I heard was shit, and dumb enough to be appreciated by the owners of the prepubescent wails. Maybe they had appeared on Saturday morning TV and were hotly tipped to be the next disposable icons of kiddie rock.

But no, the kids are still wailing during the interval before the arrival of the Mystery Jets. And they're wailing at the Mystery Jets as they set up their own gear. Given this, it's a surprise to find that the Mystery Jets play a fairly lumpen prog rock, are ugly as fuck and that their guitarist is old enough to be the father of the rest of them, and the grandaddy of the screamers. Not the ingredients for the new darlings of the kiddie rock scene, you'd have thought, and the band do, quite shamelessly, seem overawed by the adolescent attention.

So it's The Futureheads the kids have latched onto after the demise of Busted. Why they've fallen for four ordinary looking Sunderland lads with a penchant for loud new wave art rock I don't know; The Kaiser Chiefs with their wacky antics and straight-laced pop tunes would have been a more suitable choice. Anyway, at least us grown-ups in the audience are joining in now, drowning out the squeals for the most part as The Futureheads' opening blast of "Decent Days and Nights" followed closely by "The City Is Here For You To Use" goes down a storm. It's loud, energetic and pretty much what I'd expect from the band as they make their way through their eponymous album with the occasional b-side and cover thrown in for good measure. There's also a new track called "Areas" which indicates that there's gonna be no great advancement in the 'heads' sound on the difficult second album.

Between songs they engage the crowd in a witty Wearside banter which soon becomes a witty but wearisome banter as it occurs between every single song, without fail. This slows the gig down and stops the band from getting any sort of momentum going, which is disappointing, although Ross, Barry and Jaff are all rather engaging in their on-stage musings. Drummer Dave says very little.

Highlights include "Robot", "Stupid And Shallow" and their excellent cover of Kate Bush's "Hounds Of Love" during which the crowd are invited to sing the oh-uh-oh parts. The encore includes a superb reading of "Danger Of The Water" ("our only slow song," they admit) as well as an electrifying "Le Garage" and proceedings are rounded off by an exhuberant half-cover of Neil Young's "Piece Of Crap" which, with its revamped verses, sounds as far from the original as their version of "Hounds of Love".

Everyone, kids and grown-ups alike, goes home happy, ears ringing. The Futureheads are a classy live act who could do with cutting down on the inter-song banter and just basically getting on with it to allow the natural energy of their songs to really thrive.

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