Future Of The Left
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“You’ve done very well London. So far you’ve named who we are, what bands we were in and some songs we’re not going to play”
For a band known for their acerbic wit, it’s surprising that it takes four songs for Future Of The Left's Falco or Kelson to utter a word to the crowd. Indeed the highly eclectic audience might possibly feel a little short changed were it not for the aural onslaught they'd just been on the receiving end of.
Introductions are barely needed when your opening shot is ‘Arming Eritrea’ – a weapon of mass destruction splicing an infectious lyrical refrain with the band's most direct and epic instrumental delivery to date. It’s a statement of intent for the entire evening, which next melds straight into ‘Chin Music’ – a hyperactive and reverberating one minute 40 second thrill ride without any visible gaps for breathing.
Within two songs all three band members appear to be auditioning for an indie wet t-shirt competition. After four, they look like they’re drowning in their own sweat.
In between pauses for breath, the new tracks sound fully-fledged already: ‘I Am Civil Service’ resonates immensely with Falco’s rousing delivery of “if I eat what I fuck and I fuck what I eat / am I worth it?” providing the perfect foretaste for the short, brash chorus; ‘Land Of My Formers’ stands up far better in a live setting than it does on record and ‘Stand By Your Manatee’ has blossomed into a two minute pop smash disguised as a rock sing-along.
Old songs mix well with the new throughout: ‘My Gymnastic Past’ and ‘Manchasm’ thanks to their audience participation segments (a dynamic of the band's music that has always lurked below the surface, but comes to the fore tonight); ‘Plague Of Onces’ for its disgustingly loud and filthy bassline and ‘Adeadenemy…’ for its thunderous stop-start nature.
If any fault can be levelled at the night’s entertainment, it’s that the set is slightly swayed towards their previous output as opposed to the new LP. You heavily suspect this is because the record this tour is promoting is not supposed to be out yet, but in particular ‘Fuck The Countryside Alliance’ feels like an opportunity for brief respite that would better be served by their most recent single 'The House That Hope Built'.
One positive byproduct of the leak of second full-length Travels With Myself And Another and subsequent digital pre-sale is the familiarity the audience obviously has with the set. Whilst the unexpectedly successful dual vocal harmonies in ‘You Need Satan More Than He Needs You’ - which pivot the song on record and are a recurring theme tonight - are a little lost in the mix, the pounding chorus is fully mimicked by the crowd and hint at the status you suspect it’ll grow to have.
The drum dismantling set closer ‘Cloak The Dagger’ is also greeted by whoops of recognition as opposed to the stunned silence of old, complete with an overflowing moshpit, a 10 minute breakdown and an inverted Kelson, hanging off of some nearby gantry.
In the past, the band's reluctance to walk a straight line has often meant that the public and media have barely known what to do with them. They are a little quirky for the more sombre alt. rock fan to fully embrace and downright incomparable to many of the other acts featured on a semi-regular basis in the NME. Tonight suggests that the mixing of new and old material should go some way to dispelling those preconceptions, but that despite the apparent immediacy of their music, you’ll still have to do some legwork to meet them halfway.
In fact, it seems like every article regarding Future Of The left usually makes the same mistake as an unfortunate heckler did tonight in drawing attention to the band members' past (as Mclusky/Jarcrew) when the truth is, as both their name and Falco succinctly suggest, their future is far more interesting.
photo by Graham Shackleton
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