Future of the Left, Pulled Apart By Horses

Kev Eddy 26/05/2009

Tonight could be seen as something of a landmark for Future of the Left.

After all, the last time Andy Falkous and Jack Egglestone played together on this stage, it was only weeks before Mclusky imploded*. The circumstances of this gig are somewhat different - what with the band having just digitally released their second album, Travels With Myself and Another to critical acclaim, and with every indication that it could catapult the band into the mainstream.

Not that you'd know it from the look on Andy Falkous's face, of course. Legendary for his disdain of too-cool-for-school London audiences, it's only after Egglestone teases the crowd with the intro for 'Lightsabre Cocksucking Blues' four songs in that a smirk crosses his face, and he congratulates the audience for knowing 'the names of the bands they used to play in and of songs they no longer play'.

It's a fair point. Once upon a time, it could have been argued that Future of the Left were nothing more than Mclusky with a heavier bassline. That time is long gone. It takes a brave band to kick off their set with two songs the audience may or may not know, but it's a credit to the sheer power of 'Arming Eritrea' and 'Chin Music' that the crowd is immediately absorbed. Indeed, the songs take the approach pioneered on first album Curses - huge slabs of bass coupled with razor-sharp guitars - and distilling it yet further. In fact, at points the wall of sound is so immense that they out-rock those other purveyors of awesome distortion, 65daysofstatic.

That's not to say that the material from Curses has been relegated to the bench - far from it. The band interweave new and old material, with newies such as 'You Need Satan More Than He Needs You' and 'I am Civil Service' complementing favourites such as 'Manchasm' and 'Fingers become Thumbs'. Indeed, interweaving seems to be the order of the day, with Falkous and bassist Kelson Mathias swapping instruments, witticisms and vocals - the latter to particularly devastating effect on 'Stand by your Manatee' - throughout the evening. In fact, the interplay between the moody Falkous and the Energiser Bunny-like Mathias is increasingly one of the most entertaining aspects of the group's stage presence.

However, banter's only one part of the jigsaw - the music itself completes the picture. As ever, Future of the Left are one of those few bands for which performing live adds something to the songs - whether that's a texture you didn't notice before, or a subtle change in a song's timing, or a whole new segment. They're a band who are endlessly rewarding, and whose songs touch all those primal bases, those that make you want to shout and scream and fling yourself at your fellow man. It's music for misanthropes, but it's rewarding and triumphant all the same. And, lest we forget, they don't play fucking encores either, instead choosing to destroy the stage setup in cathartic prog-noise-wigout epic closer Cloak the Dagger. This time, it's even more colossal and anarchic than usual - even if young Kelson looks somewhat stranded atop a speaker stack as the final notes of synthesiser feedback are silenced.
Did Future of the Left come here with something to prove? Were they exercising demons of the past? Who knows? If they were, they succeeded entirely. If not, they confirmed one thing: that they are, without a doubt, the best band in the UK right now, and that you're missing out if you haven't experienced them live.

* As revealed by Andy Inglis, director of the best venue in London, the Luminaire. Thank you, that man.

Photo the property of Jacqui Sadler