The Futureheads / The French Kicks
Webster Hall; New York, NY

[06-30-06]

For
those of you who have never witnessed The Futureheads in action, you have my
pity. After a long absence during which they recorded their new album, News
and Tributes
, The Futureheads have come back with a vengeance,
demonstrating why they are one of the best live bands currently in existence.

I was surprised by how much I liked the opening band, The French Kicks.
Admittedly, I expected to hate them, but some of their songs were really
catchy and demonstrated why this band has been a long-time local favorite. On
the other hand, there was a lack of chemistry among the members that was
puzzling. Their fans were enthusiastic regardless of this fact, but as someone
seeing them for the first time, I found the lack of spark to be disappointing.
It was as though they were going through the motions, which made it hard to
appreciate their otherwise accessible material. With that kind of attitude,
will they ever be more than the perennial opening band?

The Futureheads, by contrast, were remarkably charming and engaging. They wore
big smiles through their set and seemed genuinely excited about performing
their new material. The songs from News and Tributes fared much better
live than in recording. One such example is "Return of the Berserker." The
band delivered "Berserker" in an impressive display of speed and raw energy.
Its recorded version pales in comparison. On this song, even drummer Dave Hyde
lost his composure as he beat on his kit furiously; this was quite a shocking
display, as he spent most of the night playing calmly and steadily through the
set.

It should be noted that the band seemed much more confident than the first
time I saw them, when they supported Franz Ferdinand almost two years ago.
Even though they've maintained an energetic, almost frantic way of performing,
they've also learned to work the crowd in a very charismatic manner.

There were plenty of exchanges between the crowd and the band. It was hard to
understand the Futureheads' speedy banter because of their Northeastern
English accents, but they were obviously very amused by the constant quips
from the cheery, drunken hecklers. "You've been brilliant," singer/guitarist
Barry Hyde told the audience as the band closed their set.

The same could be said about the band, who pounded through the set with gusto.
The crowd cheered the loudest for old favorites like "Meantime" and the band's
cover of "Hounds of Love." However, there was also a healthy enthusiasm for
newer songs such as "Area" and "Skip to the End." At that point, the new album
had been out for only a couple of weeks, but their fans shouted along to all
the words.

The show wasn't perfect, but it had nothing to do with the Futureheads'
performance. Rather, the sound mix was unfortunate, with muddled vocals that
didn't do justice to the band's four-party harmonies. In addition, much of the
set was accompanied by intensely bright white lights that flashed directly
into the crowd. One can only hope there were no epileptics in the audience!

Set List:

1. Yes/No
2. Area
3. Cope
4. Meantime
5. Burnt
6. Favours for Favours
7. Hounds of Love
8. Back to the Sea
9. Stupid and Shallow
10. Return of the Berserker
11. Fallout
12. A to B
13. Worry About it Later
14. Thursday
15. Skip to the End
16. He Knows
17. Man Ray

Encore:

Decent Days and Nights

Carnival Kids

  

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