Tag Archives: Future Islands

Future Islands at Barrowlands, 9/9/15

I have a confession to make… I fell in love with Future Islands in much the same way a majority of their audience did, THAT Letterman performance.

I have another confession to make… I liked the album but dismissed them.

Don’t judge me, I am admitting to being a cynical man.


If it’s one thing you can’t have when you see Future Islands live, it’s cynicism.

After witnessing last tonight’s efforts by the band, I am in no doubt that they are the REAL DEAL*.

Within two songs, I was a changed man, my cynical outlook has been lifted and I am in danger of being swept away on a wave of euphoria. (*first and last time I use that phrase, I promise!)

Playing songs from their combined back catalogue, it’s a massive compliment that I insist the standard of spectacle never dropped below “jaw dropping”.

Every single person that bares witness to this concert will no doubt confirm that I am not exaggerating.

The songs are beautiful live, the music sounds exquisite and the energy of Samuel Herring is a force to be reckoned with.

Never have I seen a crowd lust after someone as much, that during ‘Doves’, a seductive twerk left everyone loses the feeling in their jaw.

‘Balance’ and ‘Heart Grows Cold’ are beautifully performed, in fact everything was; yes they played THAT song, but it was sandwiched between so many other highlights that it didn’t feel that way.

You know the way? The way a crowd wait expectantly on a hit, the joy here is that every song is a hit.

‘A Song For Our Grandfathers’ is as slow as it got, but it feels intimate; beautiful.

We are here to embrace a band laying it out there on the line, no gimmicks, no faux “The Barras is the best venue in the world,” these guys put it out there for you to accept.

In a world of ever increasing cynicism in the music industry, it’s beautiful to see a band play a venue and PLAY IT! I have lost count of the times I feel that I have been to the Barras and think the artist doesn’t pay it the respect it deserves.

Everyone in here knows it’s the best venue in the world, Glaswegians are maniacs at heart, we talk fast with passion in our eyes and hearts; fill us up with alcohol and put us in the Barras and you Sir/Madame will have an experience.

You need to meet us halfway though, Future Islands chapped our door and asked us if we would like accompanied to the halfway point!

Quick note, the songs from Singles were utterly brilliant, but based on the evidence of the new track ‘The Chase’ these folks are far more than a Letterman performance – I apologise to those of you that knew that before me, you are wiser/better than me.

This is a confession more than a review, I know that but hopefully you pay heed to my words.

Go to a Future Islands concert with an open heart and you will not be disappointed; if you go with cynicism, you’ll feel what I am currently feeling, a deep sense of regret and yearning for more.

I bet the crowd there would pay double tonight to feel that atmosphere again.

Future Islands are the real deal; yes I broke my promise but it’s for a good reason.

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Words: Andrew Melrose
Photos: Ang Canavan

Future Islands at O2 ABC Glasgow, 4/11/14

Frontman Samuel Herring races on to the stage barely before the lights are even on and starts calling out to the crowd: “what the fuck’s happening Glasgow?”

He seems restless, but that is exactly what the crowd have come here to see and as they begin to cheer and wolf whistle, he continues with “we are glad to be back so soon”, before the rest of Baltimore synth-popsters Future Islands emerge.

Opening with the piercing synths of ‘Back In The Tall Grass’, Future Islands get the sold out ABC crowd warmed up on a chilly early November night.

The heavy bass of this track, which is from their latest album Singles, reverberates throughout the venue and begins to get the crowd bobbing their heads and moving from side to side.

As the smoke silently falls upon the crowd, the red and white lights on stage become more distant, Herring starts tossing himself around in front of his microphone and as the smoke clears, the crowd begin to cheer and almost beg for more.

‘Walking Through That Door’, from the band’s second album In The Evening Air, brings out the best in Herring as he sings and looks adoringly in to the crowd, the addictive beat and 80s synth comes to life when the vocals begin and the crowd sing-along.

The warmth of this band’s sound must be highlighted and there is a small sense of euphoria when Herring introduces Katrina Ford, from support act, Celebration, to the stage for ‘In The Fall’, the stage seems a lot fuller now and both singers seem to enjoy the thrill of the moment.

Finally ‘Seasons (Waiting On You)’ starts, as the lights pick up pace in time with Herring, the opening track to Singles is definitely a crowd pleaser and has everyone singing along, there is a sense that the gig is reaching a climax when Herring starts dancing again as the song breaks down, almost doing Elvis impersonations and swinging his hips around much to the crowd’s delight.

Keeping to the new album tracks, ‘Spirit’ sounds like a song that could appear on a fantasy computer game, but when Herring starts singing and his whimsical voice takes over.

Coming back on to stage for an encore after playing for nearly an hour and a half, Herring shouts “I got a couple cans of Buckfast for tonight,” where deafening screams could be heard all along Sauchiehall Street.

‘Beach Foam’ is a nice way to the end set, with a lovely mellow uplifting pace and a glow of electricity that fills the room as Herring changes his style, singing as passionately as we have seen him all night

Entering in to ‘Vireo’s Eye’, the song takes over with an injection of 80s synth pop that could easily have been a hit for New Order 30 years ago.

With impatient bass licks that energise the crowd for one last time, this has been a sold out show that has showed why so many people, have been singing the praises of Future Islands for some time.

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Words: Chris Flockhart
Photos: Beth Chalmers

Primavera Sound, Barcelona, 29/5/14

With being a somewhat Primavera veteran, at least compared to my contributors attending the festival this year, I decided to let them take the writing and actually cut loose and enjoy myself, well why change what happens every year – the wear and tear of a 7am finish and the seemingly constant drilling around Barcelona fair takes it out of you.

Anyway this year Nick Ramsey took over reviewing duties to give you a newbie’s view on the festival, however we did manage to see a whole plethora of different acts, due to the constant array of clashes the festival throws up (more a nod to the festival’s constant impeccable line up rather than poor organisation), so I decided to input some of my own takes on the festival, those will be the one’s in bold – so here goes:

For years I had heard people singing the praises of Primavera Sound; a show-stopping line-up, an idyllic location and as much sangria as one can physically consume – I decided to make the trip out and I was not even remotely disappointed.

Probably the most efficiently ran, cleanest and vibrant festival I have ever attended, but more on the general experience of the festival later.

First band I caught of the weekend were The Ex, who I had also seen the night before at the BARTS venue as part of the pre-festival build-up.

A band that pre-dates some of their better-known contemporaries, the Dutch anarchist-punks perform with a raw and intense energy delivering tracks from their copious back catalogue.

I had wandered down a touch earlier than Nick on the Thursday to catch the sun soaked indie rock of Real Estate and while it kind of formed the backdrop of a bit of a Glasgow reunion, along with getting the Cry Parrot guide to Primavera (“it’ll be a LOL” cheers Fielding), it provides a delightful start in the early evening sunshine before the festival hits full flow.

I’ve enjoyed Warpaint on record, although would argue that their releases don’t have huge repeat play value, however as they perform on the ginormous Heineken stage, their material actually comes across incredibly well in such a large and open setting.

Playing mostly material from last year’s self-titled album, their set is polished, although they do close with a pretty poor David Bowie cover.

I caught Neutral Milk Hotel at the Barrowlands a few weeks ago and was pleased to be able to catch them again on what will most likely to be a short-lived reunion tour.

Opening with ‘The King Of Carrot Flowers’, the crowd is electric and hanging on Magnum’s every word, seeing NMH perform to such a joyous, festival type crowd is somewhat surreal but still enjoyable nonetheless.

Despite my best efforts and the insistent recommendation of friends, I’ve just not been able to get into St Vincent.

In an attempt to change my own mind, I decided to watch her set and have to say I was impressed, Annie Clark delivers a slick set, proving herself to be both a talented musician and an excellent performer.

It might not be for me, but judging by the size and reaction of the crowd, it seems St Vincent is on the way to bigger and better things.

After a performance on the Letterman show sent them viral, Future Islands have a pretty huge turnout at the Pitchfork stage.

Playing tracks from new album Singles, the crowd is responsive to Sam Herring’s bizarre vocal style and dad-dancing, personally I find it boring and all of the songs follow the same, repetitive format; more style than substance.

Glasgow’s CHVRCHES follow on the Pitchfork stage and also receive a large turnout, playing popular singles ‘The Mother We Share’ and ‘We Sink’, CHVRCHES are another band on the ascension.

I can’t really see anything difference or any value in their music, although perhaps the positive is that they may pave the way for talented Glaswegian and Scottish bands to receive more coverage.

In a small spell where mine and Nick’s viewing collides I find too many clashes and the heavy trek over to the Sony Stage too much to catch St. Vincent, so I find myself ridiculously overwhelmed my peer pressure and underwhelmed by Jeff Mangum’s whining and wander away to Future Islands in haze of loud mocking.

At the Pitchfork Stage Future Islands don’t quite have the same command as they do when I covered them at the Captain’s Rest some three years ago, but the days of small venues are behind them, I guess I’ll just cling to those memories.

Seeing Arcade Fire live is always a spectacle and a two hour headline slot at a festival in Spain at half midnight seems pretty much the perfect time and location for them.

Playing a blend of both Reflektor and older material, their set is a beautiful, emotional event for all in attendance; truly awesome.

I decide to miss Arcade Fire and Queens of the Stone Age in favour of the one act that you simply have to see at Primavera, the ATP Stage apparent residents Shellac, and Steve Albini and co don’t let down and as a mass of angry white men shout along to ‘Prayer To God’ you get lost the band’s emphatic presence; they play every year and every year they are not to be missed.

Touche Amore might appear somewhat out of the place on the bill to some but it’s a true reflection on how far the band have come.

Tearing through a raucous set, they barely pause for breath between songs, playing a broad mixture of old and new material, tracks such as ‘Honest Sleep’, ‘Just Exist’ and ‘Praise/Love’ are particular highlights.

Frontman Jeremy Bolm and the rest of the band look genuinely humbled by the reaction of the crowd, they may have carved their trade in basements and living rooms across America but Touche Amore look right at home on the festival stage and you get the impression this is just the beginning.

Seeing Disclosure at 2.30am on a warm night in Barcelona is an almost perfect combination, they might have been swamped by hype in the past eighteen months but in all honesty they deserve it.

Playing mostly material from Settle, they send what feels like a million people dancing into the streets of Barcelona, the most exciting thing is that they are still really only in their infancy and I can’t wait to hear what they do next.

After staying on for a wee bit after Disclosure’s ultra fun dance era lessons I head over to the festival’s most impressively set up stage, the Ray-Ban Stage, for a night of dancing with Jamie XX; it’s all hazy memories from there but after being shushed by ultra obedient Metronomy fans at 4am we continue dancing til the tubes are back on, or at least until Jamie finally drops that beat, I reckon it’s still up there – really Jamie drop the beat I’ve been to the toilet and back!