Future Islands: Refectory, Leeds

Leeds University Refectory was full to capacity for the arrival of Future Islands. The queue stretched all the way from the venue almost to the entrance to campus to get it. The gig was billed as the official opening party to Live At Leeds which was due to take over the whole of Leeds for the entirety of the following day. Even the lengthy queue couldn’t dampen people’s spirits as there was a joyous air of anticipation surrounding the event.

Before the fans got to see their beloved Future Islands they were treated to a support slot from Wing Dam. Drifting between punk-pop and more stereotypical rock they were hard to pin down to any one genre. They are a mix of, sometimes, heavenly vocals offset against thrashing brash guitars and crashing cymbals. Cleverly they have found a middle ground that will appeal to fans of both the lighter and darker sides of grunge.

The excitement was then palpable as Future Islands took to the stage. Fresh from the release of their latest album “The Far Field” the audience were eagerly anticipating hearing it live alongside their favourite tracks from the last album, and the one that catapulted the band to such notoriety, “Singles”. From the very first moment lead singer Samuel T Herring was using his trademark chest thumping to fire up the crowd. Herring and the crowd bounced off each other all evening. It was an audience the incorporated a varied age range, ensuring that the dad dancing wasn’t just limited to that of Herring’s on stage.

It was by no means a perfect set, collectively they made mistakes, but they just laughed it off and it certainly didn’t curtail the enjoyment of anyone in attendance. “You just fuck up sometimes Leeds, you’ve just got to have a laugh” says a smiling Herring as he fluffs his lines during “Sun In The Morning”. At times Herring’s antics and deliberately uncool dance moves threaten to steal focus from the music, but the tracks themselves are so engaging that they always win through. His unique vocal style seems even more exaggerated during this live performance and this, coupled with his unpredictable mannerisms, makes him vaguely reminiscent of a Bob Mortimer character.

Each track of their energetic set was greeted with rapturous applause. Highlights included “A Dream Of You and Me” and “Seasons (Waiting For You)”. Future Islands may have their critics but they are undeniably entertaining, and I am sure everyone in attendance would whole-heartedly agree.