Future of the Left - O2 Academy Newcastle - Gigs - Reviews - Soundblab

Future of the Left - O2 Academy Newcastle

by Mark Hammond Rating: Release Date:

The release of 'The Plot Against Common Sense', the third album from Welsh hellions Future of the Left, has occasioned a little bit of controversy. Frontman/agent Provocateur Andy Falkous, well-known for fastening his acerbic wit to a hook or two, has engaged in a mano a mano with a music journo. Oddly, this involved Falkous being extremely caustic and sensationally witty, largely in defence of his idiosyncratically caustic and sensationally witty lyric-writing.

I won't mention the journo, nor will I divulge who he writes for (we must uphold some journalistic integrity here - that, and I don't want you to leave this page to read somebody else's work), but let's just say that Falkous felt sufficiently 'upset' by the review to go online and do what we all do when we're emotional and infront of a world-wide-web - risk making a thorough and total nimrod out of himself.

Andy Brown has already written a sublime review of the album for Soundblab (found here) where Mr Falkous will find a far more congenial point of view to the one he took umbrage to, I'm sure. Feeling a little bit mischievous, I am ever-so-slightly tempted to write something deliciously inflammatory in the review that follows, to shamelessly goad Falkous in my clamour for notoriety. I think I'll just call the gig from the 11th as I saw, heard and felt it, irrespective of the potential rebuttal/subsequent fame I might find (Andy, if you're reading, tear me to shreds. To paraphrase Emilio Estevez as Billy the Kid; just make me famous).

Truth be told (now I'm being fearless), I'm what you might call a casual fan of Future of the Left. Before Monday's gig I'd had only a cursory listen to Falkous' previous band McClusky and I'd only really dipped my toe into FotL's canon. I liked this enough to catch the band live, however unlearned I may have been. Sure, I wouldn't be able to sing along at every juncture and I couldn't be sure what to expect, but looking back the almost quiet detachment I was lulled into as a consequence set me in good stead.

I turned up in time to catch Norwich-based three-piece, Fever Fever. "That's 'Fever Fever'," stresses Rosie up at the front, "Not 'Beaver Beaver' or 'Beiber Fever." Joined by the cooler-than-a-hipster's-playlist Ellie on guitar, it would perhaps be passé of me to invoke Riot Grrl. However, with the staccato-sputter of their jagged riffs and the caterwaul of the pair's duelling screams, it's hard not to.

They wheel from this to more restrained Wire-like punk; 'The Chair' somehow abrasive yet accessible and wholly, well, feverish. The tag 'art-punk' is affixed to the group (which also includes Smit on drums, who is the best member, I'm reliably informed) neatly encapsulating their sound, which resonates so clearly of Sonic Youth to this reviewer.

The North East has spawned some irrefutably magical musical mavericks over the years. Did you know that Newcastle's very own Paul 'Gazza' Gascoigne was earmarked to rap on New Order's 'World in Motion'? It speaks volumes for his hip hop credentials (surely already in supernova following his collaboration with Lindisfarne on 'Fog on the Tyne') that he could only be usurped by the original flow-rider, Johnny Barnes.

As the techies set up, we're all swept up in Geordie pride as our hometown lad Jimmy Nail croons 'Crocodile Shoes' over the PA. While an audience of devoted regionalists tear up at the thought of Spuggy on a trampoline and Mike Neville eating a pasty, Future of the Left abruptly hurl themselves into 'Chin Music'. I don't know if it was by virtue of being rudely awakened from a particularly engrossing Tyneside reverie, but it's as if I've been dancing carefree, tapped on the shoulder and had my face smacked unceremoniously by micro-gravity.

(Relative) newcomer Julia Ruzicka has a bass tone which seemingly releases the same power that fuels the sun and holds my attention for the first few moments (she is hotter than a jalapeno-filled hot-cross bun). However, on the ensuing 'Small Bones, Small Bodies' and 'Arming Eritrea', it is Falkous who arrests my attention, cudgelling my head in with his inimitable intensity.

I am thankful for a brief respite while an old synth is brought on stage. Some wisenheimer cries "Rocket Man!" to which Falkous immediately replies, "Wow. That was like being heckled from 1972. Actually, we're going to play some Stevie Wonder. You should ask your friend next to you who he is. He's basically a pre-cursor to Plan B, only less political."

When the laughter dies down, 'You Need Satan More Than He Needs You' is stabbed out on the old Hohner followed by new single 'Sheena is a T-shirt Salesman'. Falkous displays more of his mordant charm as he dedicates 'Failed Olympic Bid' to the Monarchy: "And if that wasn't sincere enough for you, we'd also like to play it in homage to the Jubilee celebrations..." Slight sense of disquiet pervades the room "...Because we love those smug, rich, useless bastards so much."

Falkous seems like he may be in danger of relinquishing his celebrated vitriol as he continues to amuse with his razor wit. He dedicates a track to Phil Collins (don't ask me why) and not one minute into the song, his microphone stand decides to collapse. Calling a halt to his bandmates, Falkous quips "Phil Collins is a deadly opponent."

As much as the music itself is a study in ballistics, the ricochet between anthemic apoplexy and conspiratorial smiles makes for a deeply exhilarating performance. 'Robocop 4 - Fuck Off Robocop' and even a McClusky cover presage a devastating take on 'Lapsed Catholics'.

Shellshocked, agog, aghast, exhausted and laughed out, I think about what a good night I've had considering I'm not the world's biggest Future of the Left fan. Then, something that is really magical, for me, happens. As the feedback bites and the drums are deconstructed, signalling the finale, (relative) newcomer Jimmy Watkins begins to punch out a familiar riff from the left hand side of the stage. My ears can hardly believe it but the band begins to play 'I Trusted You', a song originally performed by Andy Kaufman.

Watkins even adopts the histrionics of Kaufman, pointing out to the crowd, augmenting the song's solitary lyric. A tear wells in my eye. I began the night as a casual fan just looking to catch a gig in town and I end it by handing Watkins the Kaufman pin-badge that has had pride of place on my denim jacket for years. He looks genuinely thrilled, a look I mirror as we shake hands firmly.

Comments (2)

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Great review, sure Mr. Falkous would be pleased!

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Cheers mon ami!

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