Future of the Left - Belgrave Music Hall, Leeds - Gigs - Reviews - Soundblab

Future of the Left - Belgrave Music Hall, Leeds

by Andy Brown Rating:10 Release Date:2012-03-12

I haven’t seen Future of the Left for years; in fact, I think the last time was around 2007 when the band had just emerged with debut LP, Curses. During the intervening years, the band has released three more brilliantly twisted albums of surrealist-rock fury, including last year’s fan-funded How to Stop Your Brain in an Accident.

Before I can catch up with one of my favourite bands, our ears are suitably warmed by tonight’s support acts. First up, we get a crushingly heavy set of ‘irony free noise-rock’ from Leeds very own, Pink Rick. The band plays a distinctly pissed-off brand of rock that draws from the sludgy pools of noise produced by the likes of The Melvins. They put in an impressively menacing set, veering from doom-like dirges to frantic, Jesus Lizard-esque splurges of noise.  

Much like tonight’s headliners, Pink Rick has a sense of humour (well, someone’s got to). One track finds them singing something along the lines of, “I could drink a pint of your spit/ and still be on my feet”. Now if that isn’t the strangest/best Joni Mitchell reference I’ve ever heard than I don’t know what is.

Next, we get a set from FOTL touring partners Dingus Khan. There are six members on stage, some dressed in what appear to be white boiler suits. Dingus Khan come across (visually at least) as a more dishevelled Polyphonic Spree. While their music is far-removed from the Spree, there’s something undeniably uplifting about their performance. Lead singer Mick Squalor and his enthusiastic cohorts infuse every song with boundless energy and a genuine love for what they do. The songs are fucking fantastic too, like Guided By Voices tracks delivered by drunken cult members on a particularly pro-active booze binge.

There’s absolutely no filler or flab in a Future of the Left live show, tonight is devastatingly brilliant from beginning to end. Opening with the huge drums and a capella surrealism of ‘Kept by Bees’, the band has complied a set that’s dominated by fan-favourites (well, my favourites anyway). ‘Kept by Bees’ is immediately followed by the fantastically cantankerous ‘The Lord Hates a Coward’, with its memorably menacing refrain, “Violence solved everything”.  

Falco chats in-between songs and the whole band seems relaxed; this obviously doesn’t detract from the energetic catharsis of the performance. Julia Ruzicka and Jack Egglestone make a formidable rhythm section, a solid throb of energy underpinning the frequently explosive guitars. Around halfway in, they wheel on a synth and launch into another Curses era classic, ‘Manchasm’ (who could forget the line, “Colin is a pussy/ A very pretty pussy/ Colin is a pussy/ A very pretty pussy cat”).

‘Bread, Cheese, Bow & Arrow’, from last year’s album, shows that the quality hasn’t dipped over the years they’ve been together. The band's odd lyrical imagery, original arrangements and sonic power still very much intact. They dedicate ‘You Need Satan More Than He Needs You’ to Nigel Farage (the audience are asked to name someone they hate, Farage being the perfect choice). They then give us their take on the 'rock medley’. Said medley starts with the surprisingly touching ‘French Lessons’ and ends with the blistering release of ‘Lapsed Catholics’.

As if the set wasn’t great enough, they even throw in a pleasingly furious rendition of mclusky classic ‘Lightsabre Cocksucking Blues’. The set ends with Falco taking Egglestone’s drum-kit apart piece by piece (a FOTL tradition) as they continue to play. An entertaining chaos ensues as half of Dingus Khan crawl on stage and suddenly everyone’s hitting any available drum or cymbal. 

It’s a celebratory end to a fantastic show. I won’t leave it so long before I see them live again. 

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FOTL always destroy live. Glad the new tunes sound good live as well.

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