Future Islands / O2 Appollo, Manchester | 24th of November

Future Islands / O2 Appollo, Manchester | 24th of November

Making a pit stop in Manchester after the release of the exquisite The Far Field, Future Islands took the Appollo by storm as dad-dancing, chest-grabbing Samuel Herring owned the stage with his theatrical movements and soulful voice.

Support act Zack Mexico had effortlessly filled the Appollo with their psychedelic, brooding sound, as they created a no-holds-barred atmosphere; playing an intricate guitar riff whilst being wildly bandied about on the lead singer’s back certainly set a precedent for Future Island’s non-conventional stage presence. With the energy of the band, exacerbated by having two drummers, it was easy to see why they were chosen to open for a band like Future Islands.

Future Islands took stage and tirelessly and energetically worked through all of their hits without faltering or even pausing. My first thought upon seeing Samuel Herring since 2015 at Manchester Academy was that he’d lost all of his paunch and then some; and it wasn’t difficult to see how. During some of the faster tempo songs, such as Cave, he was able to energetically pogo whilst singing the chorus to an incredible standard. Even during some of the more melancholy tracks where Gerrit Welmers -on keys- took focus from the singing, as he unobtrusively worked the band’s distinctive and meaningful synthesized melodies, Herring still remained to have all eyes on him as he cavorted around the stage in a manner that suggested that these melodies are not only an integral part of the song, but the making of it.

The crowd certainly seemed to acknowledge that, despite Herring’s captivating stage presence, Future Islands are by no means a one man band. The distinctive opening keys for the track Seasons (Waiting on You) immediately sent thrills throughout the crowd, as everyone danced to the instantly-recognizable electronica opening. The same can be said for bass guitarist William Cashion, as his equally distinctive riffs provoked a similar reaction in the crowd; as he began the chords for Back in the Tall Grass, it was met with mass excitement, as did many tracks from the breakthrough Singles album.

Newer releases from the Far Field album were seamlessly interwoven throughout the set, with no self conscious interjection that it was indeed off their latest album. These tracks perfectly blended with those from Singles, and were met with equal appreciation, as it appears that the band found their feet during Singles, and went ahead to produce The Far Field with a defined sense of their sound. The most notable difference between albums appeared to be a more prevalent use of the synthesizer, which was used in a more subtle and slightly more polished way.

The band returned to their 2008 album Wave Like Home during their wildly encouraged encore, as they played Beach Foam. The track encapsulated Herring’s raw and often guttural voice, as the powerful chorus allowed his bellowing voice to completely fill the room. His signature throaty voice emphasized his emotion and sincerity, compounding the thoughtful lyrics. It seemed as though the whole Appollo joined him in singing the line ‘standing on a beach somewhere’, as everyone appeared enraptured by Herring’s powerful lyrics. The line ‘baby one day I’ll have what I want’ was sang with deep conviction, as with all of Future Island’s lyrics.

As the band finished their set, Herring took a moment to look around the screaming and applauding venue, as though in complete disbelief that the band have gained this kind of traction and support. For me, however, it is no surprise how far the band have come and I am excited for their future ventures.

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