Tag Archives: The Futureheads


Blenheim Palace
29th June 2008

The Winchell Riots
I only catch two songs, which is a shame, as I like what I hear. Being rather early in the day, the arena isn’t very full, but they fill it with their epic, reverb rock sound. I don’t hear enough to really be able to tell, my initial impressions are that they sound like what Keane would sound like if they were any good. 

Little Fish
Who’d have thought a bloke and a girl could make so much noise? Especially a girl as tiny as “Juju”. Every inch the rock n’ roller in her white skinny jeans and red braces, she’s an instrument in herself – her voice creates everything and her guitar follows. I don’t think PJ Harvey or Suzi Quatro are unfair comparisons. The repertoire is varied, from blues to rock via soul, with a lot of bravery, pain, anger and compassion thrown in. Occasionally it gets a bit frighteningly yelpy, but it’s mostly challenging and intriguing.

A Silent Film
How annoying – a local band I haven’t bothered seeing before because I didn’t think they’d be this good. Epic, layered, reverby, synthy, earnest – their sound is great. Their songs sound good, but I have no idea how commercial they are – I’m just enjoying the interesting sound they’re making. Not heard anything as inventive yet accessible as this in quite a while. And their cover of Born Slippy is amazing.

The Dykeenies
Pretty standard teen pop/rock/indie, as far as I can tell. Very popular with the “youth” who have appeared out of nowhere (and are surely too young to be here). I’m reliably informed that they’re a cross between Fall Out Boy and Busted; I wouldn’t know – I wasn’t born in the 90s. Quite tight, tuneful and catchy though.

Black Kids
I think I’m being won over by the Black Kids’ catchiness. The sheer poppiness irritated me at first, but the influences have been showing through – rock, disco, early 80s pop-funk, even Motown. They’re still not the tightest band live I’ve ever seen, but tunes like recent single Hurricane Jane whip the crowd up anyway, so they’re doing something right.

Lightspeed Champion
Look, it’s the bloke who used to be in Test Icicles and he’s wearing a furry hat! He’s got a female drummer! And a violin player! So automatically cool, obviously. It’s all a quite jolly singer-songwriter-with-wry-observations-about-life type of affair, but not twee, despite excursions towards 60s surf rock (which win me over with the quirky chord changes). He seems like a nice guy, and it’s all quite appealing.

Estelle is on the sassier end of cool. She’s brought a huge band with her, but this grandiosity is dampened the moment she starts chatting to the audience (apparently, men are getting on her nerves so much that she’s written a song about it). She toasts and raps as well as sings, and it’s not an R&B borefest – there’s even some reggae and grime in there (but not, alas, any Kanye). She puts her heart into it, and it’s quite a refreshing change to the rest of today’s lineup.

Young Knives
Oh no! They don’t sound so quirky anymore. Except when they play their older stuff. But the stage presence is still eccentric, so they’ve not deserted us completely, despite Henry’s declaration that Hot Summer made them multimillionaires… The Beatles-like harmonies and guitar interplay are still in evidence, too, and Turn Tail is lovely. The crowd are somewhat distracted during their set by a giant red WKD beach ball, though.

The Streets
Your reviewer doesn’t like The Streets. No amount of lazy, soul-destroying, endlessly repetitive basslines smothered by Mike Skinner’s arrogant, posturing, rambling, uninspired, self-aggrandising, boorish boasting – conspicuously devoid of any rhyme, rhythm or anything else interesting whatsoever – would persuade her otherwise. And so it transpires.

The Futureheads
Hold onto your heartrate, it’s the Futureheads! Never knowingly laid back, their marriage of frenetic punkery and beautiful harmonies would be charming if that description didn’t seem a bit too odd to apply to them. The ever-popular Skip to the End requires synchronised crowd jumping, the mere sight of which exhausts me into taking my leave…


From Nightshift, August 2008

The Futureheads

The Zodiac, Oxford
13th October 2003

Sunderland quartet The Futureheads are one of those bands that compel you to see them before – just in case – they get famous.

Energetic and punchy pop punk rockers, they have a good line in short sharp bursts of urban tales, mostly reminiscent of early XTC (though a bit more flippant in their story-telling) but with echoes of early Jam (especially on Ticket) and Gang of Four, which isn’t surprising as their recent EP 1-2-3-NUL! was produced by Andy Gill.

They’re also idiosyncratic, with songs like Stupid and Shallow (which Rolf Harris look-alike Ross Millard dedicates to the act of buying shoes) and Piece of Crap rubbing shoulders with recent single First Day, about the reality of growing up and getting a job, Man Ray, possibly a paean to the artist (though it’s hard to tell) and a cover of Kate Bush’s Hounds of Love.

Ross, Barry Hyde and Jaff, all on guitars and vocals, demonstrate very impressive lyrical play and harmonies; this alone makes them worth seeing. They seemed to have honed this down to a fine, if eccentric, art, sometimes even yelping or yodelling, but always in time with each other. The tune does sometime make way for the vocals and rhythm, admittedly, and they do tend to like one particular note and don’t deviate from that much, but their habit of slightly wandering off in another direction mid-song is endearing and at least keeps your attention.

Everything seems very quick and urgent with The Futureheads: their subject matter, staccato guitar and vocal styles and song lengths. They’re strong enough for the catchiness of their songs to also develop; they’re otherwise very impressive but the tunes you take away in your head aren’t theirs but the songs of artists they sound like, sung by their voices.


From Nightshift, November 2003


Cayto – The Cellar, Oxford – 16th December 2003

The Futureheads – The Zodiac, Oxford – 13th October 2003

Longview – The Zodiac, Oxford – 2nd July 2003

Fiel Garvie, Roquphane and The Epstein-Barr Virus Band – The Cellar, Oxford – 17th June 2003

Panel Of Judges, Byrne, The Broken Family Band, The Maplettes and Spartacus – The Cellar, Oxford – 27th February 2003

Scratch Perverts – Po Na Na, Oxford – 6th February 2003