The Futureheads @ Birmingham Academy 2, 4th May 2010

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The Futureheads are Barry, Ross, Jaff and Dave. Since forming in Sunderland in 2000 they have released four albums, the most recent being The Chaos which they are currently touring around the UK. They play very fast, loud, harmonic indie power-pop and they know how to put on a good show. They’re obviously influenced by a lot of the punk / new wave era bands of the late 70’s, early 80’s but have given this a north-east makeover.

Support came from a Manchester band called Dutch Uncles. I’d never heard of them prior to the gig but doing a little research on the internet it seems that they’ve been around for a few years. They played a 30 minute set in which the front man busted some…well let’s say, interesting dance moves (think Ian Curtis without the energy or crazy eyes) and stood out from the other members of the band.

Unfortunately, throughout the set I was thinking how the singer’s voice didn’t really go with the band. Initial comparisons were like the singer from Hot Chip jumping ship to an average indie band. I don’t like to criticise up and coming bands (and they all seemed pretty young) but it just wasn’t my cup of tea. You can always check them out on Myspace to decide for yourself. To be fair the band did well in front of a fairly decent sized Academy 2 crowd. Despite a few hecklers they seemed to flog some of their merchandise at the back of the room, too.

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The Futureheads took to the stage just after 9:30pm in front of a good turnout and launched straight into ‘54321’. Being the north-east’s undisputed kings of the three minute guitar power-pop songs, the band raced through the set including favourites ‘Decent Days & Nights’, ‘Beginning of the Twist’ and recent singles ‘Heartbeat Song’. Spanning their four albums, the set was a healthy mix of old favourites and songs from their new album which is currently doing well in the indie charts.

In between songs, Barry, Ross and Jaff were constantly talking to the audience which is such a refreshing thing as so many bands seem to be unwilling to interact with their fans. The Futureheads certainly take crowd interaction seriously as audience members are actively included in the show. Introducing the bands classic cover version of Kate Bush’s Hounds of Love, the audience is split into two ‘teams’ for the harmonies of Ross and Jaff. Hands in the air and jumping up and down (or to quote Barry, ‘bouncy bounce’) are openly encouraged. I certainly take my imaginary hat off to bands that make the effort and don’t take themselves too seriously.

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Towards the end of the set the band requested complete silence from the audience as they played the intro to their ‘most difficult song’ called ‘Jupiter’. Front man, Barry, requested complete silence as any noise could lead to distraction and cause them to produce the audio version of ‘sour milk’! Sour milk avoided it must be said the band did a superb job on ‘Jupiter’. The band came back to the stage for a brief encore, asking for requests for the loyal fans near the front and responding with a quality rendition of ‘Skip to the End’.

All in all, they’re a no nonsense fun band. I’ve seen The Futureheads about three times over the years and they’ve got better each time. You know where you stand with them and as a band they’re clearly confident and comfortable in their own ability. They’ve definitely improved over the years, since their 2004 debut, and long may it continue.

Review – Chris Thompson
Photos – Jemma Dodd

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