Futureheads / Field Music - Manchester Academy 1 - 3.6.06

Field Music are an A-Z of all things indie for those people who don't shop at Top Man or spend £20 on a haircut that makes them look like the stunt double for There's Something About Mary. It perhaps the reason why the UK has yet to catch on to them, but what turns out to be the UKs loss is the USA gains as the band are firm favourites over in the States being regular fixtures on College Radio next to Modest Mouse and Arcade Fire. Looking like members of Belle & Sebastian and sounding not unlike Pavement, Low and a lot of the drone rock bands of yore there are not so much singles as sound textures that build up from lo-fi shambles into something approaching leftfield pop. Hailing from Sunderland these mates of the Futureheads sing out loud in big Northern accents over "You're Not Supposed To" which comes across as a more cohesive Mystery Jets covering the Beach Boys, "If Only Moon Were Up" is a stop-start indie classic. It's hard to imagine anyone under 25 really
getting into Field Music, but those who remember the days when indie meant awkward indie outsiders who dont fit in are sure to find solace in this band

(Pics: Field Music)

As we walk into the Futureheads we're faced with an audience that usually would be screaming their hearts out to Lostprophets or My Chemical Romance. It seems somewhere along the line the Futureheads have been unexplicity embraced by the emos. Designer Magazine first witnessed the heads early on in their career when they sped around the UK faster than the songs themselves, a scattergun delivery on songs that seemed to last no longer than 3 minutes each. Compared to those days they're virtually prog rock now with songs streching into the four minute mark and while on the recent record "News & Tributes" it goes wide of the mark at times, live they're still a glorious proposition.

The brash "Yes/No" kicks things off and while on record it's as limp as a 70yr old cock, live it's viagra'd up and ready to f*ck through the night. It's much the same for the rest of the material which is bolstered up and really hits the mark where the recorded versions fail. It's easy to forget sometimes with the newer sensations like Arctic Monkeys and the Sheffield buskers just what a good live band the Futureheads are. The harmonies pummeling rather than tickling you into submission, the wiry guitar riffs leading into big chunky as f**k choruses and an aural assault which is startlingly original despite the odd Gangs Of Four reference point.

"Skip To The End" barely lasts two minutes while an expanding base sees "Thursday" sounding not unlike a Housemartins power ballad. "Favours For Favours" should be a future single and has as the lyrical finess thats often overlooked when critiqueing the band. Scan a lyric sheet of the band and you'll find a unique outlook on life that is both original but at the same time so obvious it should be a Mike Skinner lyrics if only he'd look past chip shops and stella.

Those tracks off the debut album come thick and fast and it's hard to remember what was a bonafide hit and what was an album track buried deep in your subsconscious. "Decent Days And Nights", "Meantimes", "Stupid And Shallow" and "First Day" are still as fresh as when we first heard them and you imagine that in years to come these will still be mainstays of the Futureheads set. Naturally for some it's their reworking of Kate Bush's "Hounds Of Love" that brought the band to their attention, but it would be churlish to call it the obvious highlight at the band are far from one hit or one song wonders, an accusation that would be levelled upon a number of leading bands in the UK right now.

After a patchy second album the band returned to form in the live shows and perhaps put the spotlight on some of those more experimental tracks we'd disregarded earlier. There's no doubt the Futureheads will be around for a long time to come

Alex McCann
Photos: Kirsty Umback www.kirstyumback.com

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