If there’s one word I would use to describe Sunderland’s The Futureheads it would have to be good, old-fashioned, no holds-barred, forget your troubles, ‘fun’. Their music may not hold the intellectual or stylistic weight of some of their ‘angular’ peers (Bloc Party, Franz Ferdinand), but what they have got is shed-loads of energy and damn good tunes, which more than makes up for it in my opinion.
As you might expect with a band with such an innate capacity to inspire totally escapist enjoyment, the atmosphere in the Academy was great, and the welcome for The Futureheads was possibly the loudest I’ve ever heard in a venue of this size. It was also the best sound I’ve ever experienced in the Academy, with the vocals of Barry Hyde, Jaff and Ross Millard refreshingly prominent over their bristling bursts of fizzing guitar.
New (though re-released) single Decent Days and Nights began the set, and once they’d started, there was just no stopping The Futureheads. The next 45 minutes passed in such a whirl of harmonised vocals, piercing punk tunes and some very silly dancing that we were still dizzy as we left the venue, still easily in time to catch last orders.
Of course, the singles stood out in particular with the opener, the joyous Meantime and tongue-in-cheek First Day getting the biggest responses from the crowd. Their brilliant version of Hounds of Love, was flawlessly performed, with the audience organised into ‘playing a little game’ with those backing vocals. The Danger of the Water is one of the most interesting songs on the album and also really stood out as a quieter contrast to the bravado of the rest of the set.
Outside the album the band also played one new song (the slightly unremarkable Area), some older material including Ticket and the closer Piece of Crap (which is anything but, by the way), and a cover of Television Personalities‘ A Picture of Dorian Gray. If there’s a criticism it’s that this is the same set-list The Futureheads have been carting round for ages, but they do it all so well, that it hardly matters.
The rapport between band members was the kind of playful, good-natured piss-taking that can only come from a band that has grown totally organically, out of friendship. This is turn led to a carnival atmosphere in the crowd, and as Ross Millard remarked, Monday night gigs can be strangely quiet, but it felt more like a Friday night in the Academy.