Tonight sees Baltimore retro-futurists Future Islands deliver their unironically arty synth-pop to an adrenalised and sweaty throng who have no option but to still be living for the weekend...Monday nights aren't meant to be this amped in revelry are they?!
Their evocative, synth heavy stew delivers a disquieting, early 80's post punk morphing into new romantic vibe, splashed with heady dollops of feel-good, airy pop moments. The bands not so secret weapon is the bombastic and passionate presence of front man Samuel Herring, who emotes and moves as though delivering a sermon on the dance floor of the Wigan Casino circa the golden era of Northern Soul. As anyone who has seen their mythically jaw dropping performance of the track Seasons (Waiting On You) on the Letterman Show in 2014 can attest, it's hard not to take your eyes too far from the band's dynamic front man, and early in proceedings he lets the crowd know that this will be their final live show for some eight months, so they'll be letting their hair down and getting somewhat reckless. And these words prove to be apt, with a sense of communal joy and wild abandonment electrifying the air for large swathes of their life affirming set.
Solid set selections such as Balance, Before The Bridge and the Joy Division on uppers vibe of Walking Through That Door deliver early highlights, with keyboardist Gerrt Welmers, bass and guitar guy William Cashion and touring drummer Michael Lowry expertly delivering the group's moodily building sound oeuvres to impressive effect. Meanwhile front man Herring is everything you hoped he would be in the live setting, from the chest pounding histrionics through to the exaggerated bobbing and weaving style dance moves, stalking the stage and delivering his sermons with furrowed brow, sweating the good stuff for the enraptured masses.
And when the unmistakable opening refrain of 'that' track, the massive fan-fave Seasons drops, it brings about a deafening response, an uplifting, Born Slippy style celebratory anthem for the now generation, complete with obligatory death metal growl and low down dance histrionics on behalf of the ever entertaining Herring as the track winds to a joyous conclusion.
The mood stays in the red for the intense Tin Man, with an animated Herring reigning punches upwards at an imaginary god to a crescendo of beer spray and hollering. And in light of recent tragic events framed within the current zeitgeist of these times in which we live, it's a life affirming and freedom re-claiming moment...
The crowd want some more and the encore delivers much much more, Herring frenzied and lost in the moment. At one stage he looks like he's delivering an imaginary Pete Townsend style guitar windmill while simultaneously starting up a chainsaw! On Vireo's Eye and Beach Foam the band ride the wave all the way to shore, working all and sundry into a passion lather of rapture. Final track Little Dreamer delivers an evocative comedown, and as the houselights return us all to relative normality, bathing in the warm afterglow of what we have witnessed, there can be no doubt that Monday night is indeed alright within the realms of these Future Islands.
Words by Anthony Gebhardt
Photo by Jake Wilton