Whilst Newcastle O2 Academy slowly fills up, local lass Beth Jeans-Houghton struts onto stage. Quite unrecognizable due to her Cyrus-esque transformation to Du Blonde, her band begin to wear in the crowd with some gritty guitars. The set succeeds in getting the night off to a good start, particularly the surprise accompaniment from Future Islands’ Samuel Herring during ‘Mind is On My Mind’, which manages to excite the now half capacity crowd. However, this newfound stormy persona comes off a little try hard – a teenage phase that feels as though it could soon come to an end.
Du Blonde’s grungy opener made way for Baltimore natives Dope Body. Although one wouldn’t categorically pair their music with the synth-pop of Future Islands, it quickly becomes visible that the band’s stage presence has earned them the UK support slots. Andrew Laumann took very little time to fall into his lead position, removing his shirt less than one song into their heavy set, releasing a persona comparable to that of an early Anthony Keidis blended with Matt Schultz. The guitar heavy tracks with numerous distorted solos may not have been appreciated by the crowd but they were definitely feeling the work of Laumann, conturing his body around the mic stand and regularly fronting-up to to the crowd to conjure up any form of a riot.
The last time Future Islands visited the region, they played the intimate Cluny 2 so it was only right for them to pay homage to all those in the crowd who caught them at such an early show as a step up to a packed out O2 can only be explained through their eruption into the lives of many through performances on David Letterman and Later…with Jools Holland.
Having come a fair way since their formation in 2006, a constant theme of ‘just keep going’ runs throughout their back catalogue and is ever present this evening. Opener ‘Back in The Tall Grass’ soon lays down the infectious grooves and sharp drum beats and samples that have become synonymous with Future Islands . Soon enough Samuel Herring is straight into his infamous hip-shaking, leg kicking, chest thumping self that brought them into the eyes of many over the last two years – his routine puts the likes of Ed MacFarlane to shame. The 2000 capacity crowd now well warmed up soon begin to mimic Herring’s moves all around, whilst the band sharply run through an array of songs from their latest LP Singles along with earlier crowd pleasers such as ‘Balance’ and ‘Long Flight’.
Herring’s ability to keep the crowd in his hands through animated story telling during new and very early tracks is one that is rare and that soon comes to fruition when the opening synth notes to ‘Seasons (Waiting on You)’ set the crowd alight. Carefully fluctuating between harmonies and an almost ear-pleasing growl, the performance that many had previously witnessed through a computer screen had come to life. Heavily breathing into his mic, Herring spends the last few seconds of the song looking into the crowd in awe. Their progression over the past two years couldn’t be more deserving for a band who could have quite easily called it a day on many occasions within the passing 9 years. Concluding the night on ‘Spirit’, the crowds rapturous floor stomping welcomes them back on for a final trio of ‘Inch of Dust’, ‘Vireo’s Eye’ and ‘Little Dreamer’. Future Islands have always seemed to be a band with a point to make and their live set made no half-hearted attempt to do so.