The Futureheads rock the Paradise

A review of The Futureheads at the Paradise Rock Club on June 7, 2010

, Contributing Writer

The Futureheads, a post-punk revival band from England, fit in the Franz Ferdinand, Bloc Party, Arctic Monkeys mold, that all dates back to The Strokes debut album almost a decade ago. Unlike those bands, The Futureheads have less of the flash, less of the dance-vibe and a little more of a straightforward punk attitude. They’ve never quite had the same corporate-polished flair, but what would you expect for a band that’s named after a relatively obscure early period Flaming Lips album. They showed that attitude and energy in their performance at the Paradise Rock Club on Monday night, slashing through close to 20 songs in just a little over an hour. 

At this point in their careers, ten years and four albums (and a handful of EPs) in, they have the luxury of pulling from a fairly deep bag of songs and crafting pretty much whatever pace set they want. Not that the Futureheads tend to slow things down very much as it is, but Monday night’s gig seemed to find them in an especially up-tempo and forceful mood. They played a set covering a good portion of their careers, from cathartic feel of songs like “Meantime” and “Decent Days and Nights” off their debut, which focus around fleeting moments and the hope of keeping temporary sentiments permanent.

They’re hardworking approach and tireless demeanor earned them a lot of respect from the crowd. At one point, when lead singer and guitarist Barry Hyde’s guitar cable stopped working, he paused to tell a joke while it was being fixed. He told the joke about a music genius octopus who is stumped by the bagpipes (he has other plans for the various arms of the bagpipes, you get the idea), but stumbled on the final line to which one very vocal crowd member responded with, “ahh, its Monday”. This sense that they, like the rest of us, put in the hours everyday, came across much more in their performance than most bands are able to convey. They had good stage banter and mentioned that the last time they were in Boston was four years ago, when they saw England get knocked out of the world cup by Portugal, before pausing to let it sink in that the U.S would be facing England on Saturday and then proceeded to good naturedly tease the crowd about U.S. soccer, as they would if they were just grab a beer after work.

They clicked almost all night, playing outstanding versions of old classics like “Worry about it Later” and “Area” and newer ones, like their recent single “Heartbeat Song,” but at times, on a fewer of the deeper cuts, the lack of clearly defined hooks, and the breakneck pace, made those songs brief and blurry, like something being passed at high speeds. However, their pace did allow them to keep from spending too much time with any of the less familiar and less engaging songs in their back catalogue.
In many songs, The Futureheads sound like the British equivalent of American Punk revivalists like Gaslight Anthem (and another), but coming from a different tradition. There’s no Americana touchstone and Britpop is ever looming. In a sense, The Futureheads could have easily followed Franz Ferdinand and Bloc Party and become just another new wave revivalist, but instead they’ve managed to carve their own path, and on nights like Monday, we’re thankful for it.   

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