Future Islands @ Manchester Academy
After nine years together as a band, Synth-poppers Future Islands can finally say they've made it. Becoming a huge internet sensation after making their TV debut on The Lateshow With David Letterman in early 2014 whilst performing one of their most known and catchy songs Seasons (Waiting On You), people could not get enough of Sam Herring's unique stage presence, pulling in millions of views. Future Islands are back, and they're playing one of Manchester's most famous venues, Manchester Academy.
Their support band choice was very interesting to see, first up was Du Blonde, containing frontlady Beth Jeans Houghton and her backing band, she was the only British act playing on the tour. Du Blonde is a psychedelic rock, punk, blues and soul inspired band. A unique mix of genres, but somehow, it works.
Houghton and Co. walk on stage and her bright blonde hair automatically catches your attention as she looks out to the back of the venue taking in the crowd in all it's glory. Front lady Houghton may be looking more nervous than excited about playing a packed out Manchester Academy, but their vocal and instrument performance was not a let down. Her voice is somewhat unique, I often found myself staring at the stage getting lost in the chilled punk sound, almost as if I was in a dream of my own.
The next and final support band, Dope Body was also an interesting choice for supporting Future Islands. With their intense Rock n; Roll sound, you'd wonder why they were supporting the likes Future Islands, not that I'm complaining as they heated up the venue with their lightning performance.
Walking on stage as if they were headlining the show, we knew we was about to see a solid support slot. Frontman Andrew Laumann screams to the top of his lungs "We're Dope Body and we're from Baltimore here to play some songs" before the drums start to blast followed by the raw guitar and bass sound, Dope Body showed Manchester how Rock n Roll is truly done. Their stage presence may be seen as competition for Future Islands frontman Sam Herring, running left to right blasting out lyrics with an almost deafening yet pleasing sound.
Stopping to get a breather from their high energy set, vocalist Andrew unammusingly shouts "Hey, has anyone got any weed?" followed by a laugh from the crowd and then goes on to say "if you give us some weed, you've got an AAA pass for the rest of the night...", but no one from the crowd owns up and leaves a disappointed band. But they didn't let that put a downer on them and continued playing till the very end of their set.
Until last year, Future Islands were quite literally a thing of the future in the UK. With their last Manchester show being last year (May 2014) at Manchester's own Sound Control, headlining Manchester Academy 1 was obviously a huge step up in the band's career, and it also means a huge step up in their live performance, which was not something the audience was let down by with Herring's 'unusual' yet fascinating dancing.
The lights finally dimmed, and a roar could be heard from across the venue, Future Islands were walking on stage and Manchester couldn't be more excited! Herring's first words being "You're all fucking beautiful, you know?" and then points at a fan on the barrier quoting "Oh shit, I know you" along with a laugh. It just shows how down to earth these guys are.
"This first song's called Give Us The Wind" frontman Herring says, a calm start to their set... But that doesn't stop Herring's dancing as he glides from each side of the stage, kneeling to the front of the stage singing into the lucky fans eyes on the barrier.
Thumping his chest as if he was a gorilla, Future Islands start to play Back in the Tall Grass, the crowd give a cheer and sing along to the band as if Manchester Academy was hosting a karaoke night, Herring continues with his famous dancing but introducing some vocals that can not be heard on album versions of their songs, he growls the lyrics 'because we're a long way from home', sounding unusual with their electric pop instrumental, but as always, Future Islands make it sound magnificent.
Coming to the end of the night, and the crowd waiting for Future Islands to play the song that took them where they are today, Future Islands start to play Waiting On You and the crowd go nuts, people across the venue, all ages, spread out and join frontman Mr. Herring in his dancing. It appeared that every embarrassing dad dancer had assembled to the Oxford Road venue and celebrated the night till the late hours.
The encore had came and the atmosphere was still buzzing, fans chanting "We want more" and quietly geeking over the band. One by one, each member walks on stage, Herring shouts across the packed venue "I think we can play a few one more", I think the crowd agreed. Keyboardist Gerrit Welmers starts playing the intro to Inch of Dust. Although the other members, Gerrit and William Cashion don't seem to excited to be on stage, simply stood playing their instruments, pumping the crowd up each song.
Finally, with sadness, they close their 19 song set with Little Dreamer, being one of their softer songs, it seemed a nice ending to what was a fantastic set by all three bands playing at the gig. Herring shouts to the crowd "You've been wonderful, Manchester" and waves good bye to the Manchester crowd and walking of stage.
Words & Photos: Cai Dixon