Ross Millard from The Futureheads talks us through their favourite five shows of 2008.
Our 5 Best gigs this year...
Proxima – Warsaw, Poland
This was our first ever visit to Poland, and a surprise it certainly was. Fans had lobbied on our MySpace for us to get across there and on our second European Tour of 2008 we did two Polish shows; Warsaw was the first and Krakow the second. The Warsaw show was the biggest turn up for the books on the tour, because the venue appeared to be in the middle of nowhere, and on a freezing-cold November evening, I did not expect to see a long queue of kids turning up at 6pm. We also had a strange request from a Polish super-fan, to interview us, not for a magazine, blog or radio-show, but just for her own sake. To 'suss us out', if you like. Bizarre. We did it mind you, and she'd definitely done her homework. Embarrassed the heck out of her boyfriend, though…
Apolo – Barcelona, Spain
Doing a full European tour in the face of a mass Economic Crisis is no easy feat, and certain shows on our November tour were short of being a sell-out, shall we say. Save from a couple of festivals, and a show in Madrid in the summer, Spain was largely ignored by The Futureheads until autumn this year, and when we did finally show our pasty faces, we didn't exactly expect a full house. So again, surprise was the order of the day come 9pm, when we walked onstage to a great big contingent of Catalans, ole'ing through Radio Heart, and laughing on cue at our jokes about Gambas… It's shock gigs like that that give you a big boost and a metaphysical high-five to spur you on when the tour feels long, and brushing your teeth with a bottle of water by the side of a motorway is getting you down...
One Big Weekend – Maidstone, England
This was the best festival we played all year, in my book. The bill was eclectic, like Radio 1's current playlist policy (which is fairer and more relevant now than it has been since this band's inception), and we had a dressing room pitched next door to Usher – so I'll never forget whiling away 15 minutes watching his dance troupe rehearse their moves to 'Burn' in extremely patent jackets and trousers, before a blacked-out people-carrier whisked them 50 yards to the stage… And I think Jaff's a prima-donna for getting vegetarian Scotch Eggs on the rider! Watch Futureheads vs We Are Scientists tug-of-war.
Civic Hall – Whitehaven, England
It's usually the ones where you have the least expectations that pop up out of nowhere and make you check yourself for being a regionalistic bigot when on long tours of the UK. We've played all over this tiny Isle this year, some places like Hertfordshire and Brunel for the first time, and Whitehaven was also firmly lumped in with those others. But it's like starving a rabid dog and then getting eaten alive when you try to take it for a walk – the crowd was hungry, and tremendous. That doesn't mean they were easy – I think if we'd been shite they would've let us know in no uncertain terms, but when the crowd are going as nuts as they were, then it's impossible to not want to put on a performance, and start pulling songs out that you've not tried for a long while – hence 'Le Garage' and 'Yes/No' etc being back in the set these days.
Showcase Club – Melbourne, Australia
It was 2005 when we were last in Australia before this summer, and back then we were playing support to Queens of the Stone Age – not the easiest gigs for a band of jangly-fastened-top-button-mackems like us. So this year we went back, but to play our own shows, and the difference was enormous. We'd had a hint that Australia could be a good place to tour when we had a day off from Queens and did 'Splendour in the Grass Festival', but this year, with all the shows being solely 'ours', we had a whale of a time. I can see why so many Brits pack up and bugger off to Aus – it's like a mixture of the good inner-city elements of England and the climate and laid-back nature of California, without Arnie… Sounds decent, doesn't it? The gig was sold out, and not just full of back-packers, which is nice when you travel for 24 hours – last thing you want to do is play to a room full of gap-year students from Northampton (no disrespect, obviously – but that's what Roadmender's is for…)
DiScuss: Were you at any of these? When and where did you see the Futureheads this year?