The Futureheads, O2 Institute, Birmingham - review

By Leigh Sanders | Birmingham | Music | Published:

When you have a lot of love for an album that has played a big part in your life - either past or present tense - nothing quite beats one of these nostalgia sets.

The Futureheads rock Birmingham's O2 Institute Photo: Leigh Sanders

Fifteen years ago, Sunderland-born four-piece The Futureheads released their self-titled debut LP.

The mixture of gritty indie rock with elements of post-punk-lite that featured aggressive riffs and beautifully harmonised vocals made them an instant success with big hitters such as Decent Days And Nights, Meantime and their excellent cover of Kate Bush's Hounds Of Love.

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And in a bitterly cold O2 Institute a fairly small crowd - only the standing area was open tonight and even this wasn't full - were treated to a trip down memory lane to, based on the visual age of those here, happy teenage years.

The Futureheads give a good show, including their between-song patter along the same vein as We Are Scientists taking the Mick out of each other.

They even joked about the empty upstairs section - referring to it as "the ghosts of those from 2004" and joked about each other's nerdy approach to songwriting and performing.

What is also interesting about these sets is seeing what everyone else's favourites are. You know the running order, this one followed the album tracklist like many others. So people know when their 'jam' is up. Tonight, the crowd saved huge roars for the likes of the frenetic Carnival Kids and Stupid And Shallow - bouncing along to the latter's high octane intro with a real energy. I mean, we had to keep our feet warm somehow.


It can't be appreciated on recording just how tight and connected their often four-part harmonies are. But on stage you get to see just how they work off one another. The a-capella intro to Alms went down a treat, as did the heavier, growling The City Is Here For You To Use and the poppier 'niceness' of Meantime.

But the real gems here were the two closing tracks. That cover of Hounds Of Love is phenomenal, this writer would even argue better than Bush's tremendous original. They split the crowd down the middle to join in with the harmonised intro. And they did, with aplomb - guitarist Ross Millard genuinely chuffed at the efforts. And the electric Man Ray closed the nostalgia stint with real panache despite Barry Hyde's battle with a throat infection all night.

They returned for a short blast of 'others'. But it was short and sweet and allowed that debut record to have the room. Of these, the excellent Beginning Of The Twist finished this frost-bitten frolic with one final dance off to put some life back in the legs before we all hopped out smiling at private personal memories.

Leigh Sanders

By Leigh Sanders

Senior sub editor for the MNA portfolio and entertainments writer leaning towards features and reviews. Get releases to me at


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