Future of the Left: Thekla, Bristol – live review
15th November 213
Welsh post-hardcore rock band Future of the Left have been touring their latest album, ‘How To Stop Your Brain In An Accident’ (our review) in recent weeks. Louder Than War made sure we didn’t miss out by going to the final night, in Bristol.
It’s hard to know where to start with a review of a Future of the Left gig, there’s so much to cover. They opened this show in the hull of an old boat in Bristol’s harbour with a rage through of Arming Eritrea from their 2009 album Travels With Myself and Another – still a wholly remarkable song – and continued on to play a fine mix of old and new stuff.
Having Small Bones, Small Bodies flung at us next was a treat (the only song I know that uses the word exoskeleton), as was the late set outing for To Hell With Good Intentions – a song that back in the day stood out even on John Peel as a particularly brutal piece of music.
The selection of songs from the new album (How To Stop Your Brain In An Accident, out now on Prescriptions Music) work even better live than they do on record. The disorientating churn of Future Child Embarrassment Matrix is like Sabbath on 45rpm, What To Say To A Friendly Policeman, with its kazoo chorus and face-ripping guitars, gets the whole boat bouncing up and down, and I Know What You Ketamine, But I Love You Just the Same crunches through its early verses before morphing into something surprisingly melodic and elegiac.
Being the last date of the tour, and their first sell-out gig in Bristol, the night is a beguiling mix of syringe-sharp playing, honed from a month or so on the road, and the de-mob happiness of a band knowing that it’s almost over for now, it’s nearly time for the van to have a breather and the driver to finally get some sleep. Front-man and guitarist Andy Falkous is practically light-headed, the between songs banter is laugh-out-loud funny, even when he’s playfully shredding a heckler or two like a cat with a defenceless baby bird. To his left Julia Ruzicka rides the basslines, a solid point among the chaos on stage, a heavy presence underpinning everything else that happens. She clicks into the rhythms with drummer Jack Eggleston, locking together like a four-legged groove machine. To Falco’s right is Jimmy Watkins, second guitarist, sometime bassist, regular back-up shouter. He prowls the stage with his thousand-yard stare and shaved head, nutting his way through the songs looking like something Falco grew in a vat to provide menace and heft to the band. He feeds members of the audience a Pepperami stuck to the end of his guitar, sways above the crowd on a punters shoulders before climbing onto the balcony and getting slightly stuck for a moment, singing his backing vocals as he goes, then for his big finish he tapes a can of beer to a punters head before bodily lifting the poor volunteer upside down, emptying the can into the mouths of the front row. Most of all he gives every impression of being someone who is having the time of his life.
He’s the perfect foil for Falco, a singer and guitarist wound so tight he’s like a series of controlled explosions given human form. He snarls his way through song after song that sound utterly unlike anything else, including You Need Satan More Than He Needs You, with its insistent cheap keyboard stabs and subterranean bass, the hyperactive ripper Robocop 4? Fuck Off Robocop, and the final fifteen minute medley, with its wails of feedback and dismantled drum-kit. Earlier Falkous had remarked that “Every band get the audience it deserves, my friends”. Frankly, they deserve a much bigger audience, but the one that staggered off the boat into the cold night air, battered and bruised and blown away, knew they’d seen something special.
Future of the Left can be found at their website, and are on Twitter and Facebook. It’s also worth following @shit_rock on Twitter as that’s Andy’s personal account and frankly it’s one of the best Twitter accounts out there.