The first time I saw Future Islands was at Sound Control in Manchester, not long after their infamous appearance on the Late Show with David Letterman. Stuffy isn’t the word. The reasonably small capacity venue was so busy that night; I was sweating buckets by the time Future Islands left the stage. One can only imagine how their energetic front man was holding up…
Their reception that evening was clearly a sign of things to come, and so it came as no surprise to see the trio from Baltimore make their return to the North this past week, with a jump to the much larger Manchester Academy. Whilst certainly lacking the intimacy of Sound Control, the Academy was still absolutely fit to burst, packed with punters of all ages. The sweating reared its ugly head too, this time due to having to race across Manchester just to get to the venue on time…
Powerful is a good adjective to describe Future Islands. Front man Samuel T. Herring is built like a brick shithouse on the quiet. A powerful man. His voice was sometimes inaudible, purely because all you could hear on the microphone was his big meaty hand slapping his powerful chest. The guy is an unbelievably good front man. Stalking the stage like a wild animal one minute and cracking wise with the crowd the next, he’s like the singing, dancing embodiment of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.
The reaction he gets out of an audience is alarmingly powerful, with a swing of the hips or a thrusting leg kick receiving deafening applause. A minute into opening track ‘Give Us The Wind’, the crowd were going ballistic as he knelt down, offering a hand to the front row. Throughout the show, he moved about the stage like a fucking nutter, but with the ease and finesse of a trained dancer.
It would be easy to think of Future Islands as the Samuel T. Herring show, but he’s not alone. Bassist William Cashion and keyboard player Gerrit Welmers are right there with him, the strong backbone behind the passionate front man, along with touring drummer Michael Lowry. Though nowhere near as physical as Samuel, they’re just as energetic in playing, with William and Michael providing a powerful, striking rhythm section.
Particular highlights from the evening came in the form of the 3x hit combo of ‘A Dream of You and Me’, ‘Walking Through That Door’ and personal favourite ‘Long Flight’, one after the other, as well as monumental bangers like ‘Doves’ and ‘Tin Man.’ The latter in particular had such a strong closing section, with an amped up tempo accompanying Samuel T. Herring damn near ripping his face clean off – A complete turnaround to the sexually provocative dancing that accompanied the groovy Doves.
‘Seasons (Waiting on You)’ obviously made an appearance (and wonderful it was), but it was clear from the response all evening that those in attendance were there for more than just the one tune. Hardly letting up all night, there were some serious moves coming from pockets of people in the crowd, all channeling their inner Future Islands front man.
It was really great to see the band make the jump to the Academy, having lost nothing from that intimate show at Sound Control in May of last year. Theirs is a following that continues to grow at a rapid pace, and with new material like ‘The Chase’ and ‘Haunted By You’, it’s easy to see why.