After being dropped by their record label in 2006, The Futureheads largely disappeared from the public consciousness, despite demonstrating more invention and talent than many of their contemporaries. That’s the way it goes sometimes.
Still, judging by their performance tonight, upstairs at The Lexington, it’s not an experience that’s scarred them too much. “Anyone remember that one?” jokes guitarist Ross Millard, referring to News and Tributes, their ill-fated second album. The answer from the crowd of 200 is a resounding “yes” – hardly a surprise given the pub is packed with fans.
As if to reassure them it’s not going to be one of those awkward gigs packed with new material, vocalist Barry Hyde kicks off with Le Garage, the first track from their first album. As he belts out the staccato vocals in his Sunderland accent, they sound as tight and urgent as ever.
Alongside the older stuff (Decent Days and Nights is still as fresh as it was in 2004), the four-piece wheel out a bunch of tracks they’ve been working on recently. We particularly like the sound of Struck Dumb, a catchy single in the best Futureheads tradition, as well as The Chaos, which is muddier than their previous stuff and ends with some tremendous drumming and distorted guitars.
Of course, they rattle through Hounds of Love, Millard tackling the backing vocals with meerkat-in-headlights eyes, before returning for a brief encore which includes Piece of Crap (it isn’t), the B-side from their debut single. However, it’s the chorus of another new track, The Heartbeat Song, which seems to best reflect the band’s mixed fortunes: “We’re singing out of tune, but I still want to sing with you.” On the basis of tonight, they could be on the way up again.