Once held as one of the brightest hopes in mid-noughties angular indie rock, The Futureheads became known for writing three-minute-long, sprightly stop-start guitar tunes with weaving vocal harmonies. Back then, it seemed near unimaginable that if they reached a fifth album they would put down their instruments and fully utilise those vocal harmonies, yet for recent record ‘Rant’ they did just that. Transposing these a capella interpretations into a live performance is no easy task, though.
Tonight’s performance is the very first time these songs will be performed in front of a public audience, and so it is understandable that the evening should have a very jovial feel. Whether breathing new life into old songs such as ‘Man Ray’ and ‘Robot’, turning their vocal chords to traditional folk songs or offering a new take on modern day pop songs (Kelis’ ‘Acapella’, The Black Eyed Peas’ ‘Meet Me Halfway’), which Barry informs is done with no irony (a brave move by a band that is still mostly known for an un-ironic cover of Kate Bush’s ‘Hounds of Love’), these songs are interestingly twisted variations that are occasionally fleshed out with the use of a Banjo, Mandolin or various other acoustic instruments.
And yet tonight never has The Futureheads looking like a cheesy barbershop quartet or a comedy pastiche of themselves. For that, they fully deserve an affectionate pat on the back.
By Nathan Westley
Originally published in issue 37 (vol 3) of Loud And Quiet. April 2012