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Manchester Roadhouse, 14th April 2008 (9/10)


“I blame the Kooks for everything, ‘cos they’re a bunch of cunts, and I hope that they all get AIDS and die.”

Kelson Mathias


Well there’s a sentiment we can all get on board with!  This line from the Future of the Left bassist, on the release date of The Kooks second album, couldn’t have been better received.  It was perhaps not something people had thought of themselves, but once it was out there, well, no-one seemed to feel uncomfortable. 


Live, Future of the Left are louder, more discordant, and play with a ferocity that brings their debut album ‘Curses’ to life.  As a collection of songs, they achieve a wit that doesn’t grate upon repeated listens, and in and amongst the shouting, there are a collection of choruses that are as infectious as your chart-bothering teenyboppers.  Recent single ‘Manchasm’ is a noise-pop anthem – if there were any justice the whole nation would be wandering around singing “Colin is a pussy, a very pretty pussycat,” instead of whatever becomes this years ‘UMBRELLA.’  But things don’t work like that, which means that you get to enjoy bands like this in intimate venues.


Not a very lucrative situation for them, and there is much reference to how under-populated the gig is.  Their honesty on the matter was refreshing – they joked about the lack of people, and pointed out that it was probably due to the early curfew, or to paraphrase, “I think it’s so they can have some shitty club-night.”  


This is about right, as people were arriving all the way through the show, some literally turning up for the encore.  It’s not well advertised that most gigs at The Roadhouse start at 6pm and are dispensed with by half past nine so that a club night can commence.  It’s a bit of a strange setup, but once you’re down there it could be any time of day.

The conditions added to the show – the between song banter is engaging – a running joke about how The Kooks should die is enough to warm the heart of any self-respecting music fan.  They take the piss out of themselves, and out of anyone who dares to offer a less than brilliant heckle.  And isn’t that the way more gigs should be?  None of this high-cheekboned distance between artist and appreciator. 

Future of the Left have the potential to appeal to a lot of people, if the message just spread.  They have a clutch of amazing songs already, and of the new songs they played, only one of them was a little questionable (an echoed shout of ‘Avalanche’ just sounded like an out-take from the lost fourth album sessions by The Cooper Temple Clause, although I think I’m being unduly harsh here).  It’s punk, but with a charm – it can put a smile a face just as easy as it makes you want to go mental.

The vocal interplay between guitarist and bassist is easily as enjoyable as that of The Raconteurs – it’s just very different to that.  The choruses are chants you can join in with.  And each one is received as rapturously as the singles.  It’s a hallmark of quality for a band.  These songs were designed to be played louder than on your stereo.  They stick pretty faithfully to the album versions, but it’s a higher volumes, and being face to face with the band gives it extra character.  Mixed in with the aforementioned audience interaction, it’s a good-natured gig mixed in with truly brilliant, angry music.


And they really go out on a high.  The last song of the night descends into mild chaos as bassist Kelson plays his way into the ‘crowd,’ whilst  dismantles drummer ‘s kit, who in turn goes to the front of the stage with a solitary drum and plays on with one fan who had decided to progress from the moshpit.  It’s just a noise really, but it’s a spectacle, and good showmanship can leave you feeling that you’ve seen something special.


Poorly attended and way too early, then – not that it seemed to matter.  One of the best bands I’ve seen this year.