UNIVERSITY of LEEDS, STYLUS Friday 28th April
Much to the delight of the packed crowd, the Baltimore trio hit Leeds Stylus (formerly Leeds Refectory) with their distinctive, passion-fuelled synthpop, pumping tunes via slick bass lines and riffs with moves executed with untiring energy throughout an impressive 19 track set, with an additional 3 for a treat of an encore.
Ahead of them taking the stage we’re kept waiting, in part adding to the growing suspense but we suspect in part also to allow the snaking stream of people still outside to be let in and ticked-off, tackle the student bar of tables with tins of Red Stripe on sale (sorry, they’re not too cold, we’re told) or an alternative of shots of Havana (it’s a kind of spirit we’re told) with Coke (sorry, we’ve run out) – come on Leeds, let’s sort this – and squeeze a space in the already steaming crowd.
And then the trio take the stage and our senses are hit with the distinctive melodies, growls and impassioned dance moves of Samuel T Herring, an engaging frontman with a style (dress and manoeuvres) all of his own. Embracing squats, swings, sways and high leg kicks that Angela Ripon in the 1970s would have been proud of – has this man ever heard of lactic acid? – Herring feels every note of every song, pounding and punching his chest for added passion and vigour. His craft is delivered with tireless energy and he’s an exciting delight to watch. The predictable (but deservedly so) 2014 crowd pleaser ‘Seasons (waiting on you)’ has a less predictable position in the set listing and we’re lifted to a crescendo of audience participation in voice and movement in the knowledge that there’s plenty more to follow where that came from. Terrific.
This tour is a celebration of their most recent album release – The Far Field – a recording that reconfirms Future Islands as masters of modern synthpop while encouraging further debate of their love ‘em or hate ‘em Marmite status. If their performance in Leeds is anything to go by, it’s a vote of love by all concerned and one I’m delighted to endorse.