FUTURE ISLANDS + LAUNDROMAT – BRIGHTON CENTRE 18.11.22
Baltimore based US synth rock band Future Islands brought their show to an almost sold out Brighton Centre tonight. It was the biggest venue of the tour we were told during the gig. This was gig 6 of their short 7 date trip around the UK. They were here to promote their 2020, 4AD released album ‘As Long As You Are’. Like many bands, the tour was delayed by two years due to the dreaded Covid pandemic.
You could almost call Future Islands a one hit wonder after their 2014 performance of ‘Seasons (Waiting For You)’ on ‘The David Letterman Show’ in the US, where it was a truly captivating performance that instantly propelled the band from journeymen musicians to international superstars. I was quite surprised that their trajectory is still ascending as nothing they have released since has had the same success of that song and the album ‘Singles’ from which it was released.
Still I was really looking forward to tonight’s gig, having last seen the band live at Brighton Dome on 30th April 2017, where they played a 26 song set. From 2009 to 2014, the band appeared in Brighton on no less than half a dozen occasions, but these were much smaller venues, namely Concorde 2, Digital, The Haunt, The Hope & Ruin, and twice at The Freebutt.
Tonight at the Brighton Centre there was still initially a minimalist stage set with just a small platform with three white angular cut out white iceberg like wooden shapes behind it. The whole front stage was reserved solely for singer Samuel Herring who covered every inch of its surface during the performance.
At 9pm, the auditorium lights dimmed, some amazing atmospheric sci-fi sounding music poured from the PA, and the band took to the stage. Before a note was played Sam Herring said Brighton was his favourite city in the world (don’t a lot of bands say that) and felt a special affinity for the city as he himself grew up in a coastal town.
The amazing keyboard sound of Gerrit Welmers kicked in, and the band were off and running with their 20 song set beginning with ‘For Sure’ then following on with ‘Hit The Coast’, a song about packing up your car and starting out over again.
The lighting for the show was spectacular, each song had different lighting colour to accompany it, which really gave the stage a great atmospheric vibe. Samuel Herring is a tour de force to watch live, throwing body popping shapes, doing the ‘Funky Worm’ and bashing his chest with alarming regularity. I read somewhere that in the past he has been hospitalised due to the creative physicality of his performance and on tonight’s showing I’m not surprised. He is as much a storyteller as he is a performer and most tracks were given an introduction as to how they evolved, he really is a performer who wears his heart on his sleeve.
The songs from the newer albums got the large crowd moving, ‘Time On Her Side’ and ‘Ran’ got the loudest applause until ‘Seasons (Waiting For You)’ was played. This song is such an anthem, I think everyone in the audience was singing along.
‘Plastic Beach’ was introduced with a story about how he had nearly run out of pants ,I think he meant trousers, anyway, four pairs had already been consigned to the bin due to them splitting, and he was down to his last pair, luckily the tour ended on Saturday night in Exeter.
There was pretty much no lull in Herring’s performance, only during the song ‘Thrill’ did he take some time out and stand still for the song’s duration. The other band members Gerrit Welmers on keyboards, William Cushion on guitar and Michael Lowry on drums and percussion remained pretty static throughout the whole performance though it’s Welmers keyboards that really drive their sound and make them a pretty unique band.
The gig ended at 10:40pm, finishing the three song encore with ‘Little Dreamer’ ,a song written about lost love. You kind of feel Samuel Herring’s pain as he pours his heart out with the song’s heartfelt lyrics.
The band left the stage with a quick obligatory thank you Brighton and the crowd left the auditorium with Nina Simone’s ‘My Baby Just Cares For Me’ playing over the PA. A great gig by one of America’s great bands.
William Cashion – bass, guitars (2006–present)
Samuel T. Herring – lead vocals (2006–present)
Gerrit Welmers – keyboards, programming (2006–present)
Michael Lowry – drums (2020–present; touring musician 2014–2019)
Future Islands setlist:
‘For Sure’ (from 2020 ‘As Long As You Are’ album)
‘Hit The Coast’ (from 2020 ‘As Long As You Are’ album)
‘Ran’ (from 2017 ‘The Far Field’ album)
‘Plastic Beach’ (from 2020 ‘As Long As You Are’ album)
‘Peach’ (from 2021 ‘Peach’ single)
‘Walking Through That Door’ (from 2010 ‘In Evening Air’ album)
‘A Dream Of You And Me’ (from 2014 ‘Singles’ album)
‘Time On Her Side’ (from 2017 ‘The Far Field’ album)
‘Balance’ (from 2011 ‘On The Water’ album)
‘Before The Bridge’ (from 2011 ‘On The Water’ album)
‘Light House’ (from 2014 ‘Singles’ album)
‘Thrill’ (from 2020 ‘As Long As You Are’ album)
‘A Song For Our Grandfathers’ (from 2014 ‘Singles’ album)
‘Ancient Water’ (from 2017 ‘The Far Field’ album)
‘King Of Sweden’ (from 2022 ‘King Of Sweden’ single)
‘Seasons (Waiting On You)’ (from 2014 ‘Singles’ album
‘Long Flight’ (from 2010 ‘In Evening Air’ album)
‘Tin Man’ (from 2010 ‘In Evening Air’ album)
‘Inch Of Dust’ (from 2010 ‘In Evening Air’ album)
‘Vireo’s Eye’ (from 2010 ‘In Evening Air’ album)
‘Little Dreamer’ (from 2008 ‘Wave Like Home’ album)
Support tonight came from Brighton based band Laundromat who took to the stage at 8pm sharp. The band is the brainchild of musician Toby Hayes, plus guitar, bass, and drums. I didn’t get the name of the other three musicians in the band, but they created a pleasant groove/beat orientated pop sound, a kind of Lo Fi slacker rock/pop.
Hayes is a bit of a nomad, firstly living in China then relocating to Berlin and now residing in Brighton.
They performed an eight song set and were well received by the somewhat sparse crowd. A man of few words, but he did say he was pleased to be back playing in front of a home crowd. My favourite track was ‘Humans’, which reminds me of early Beck.
The band have so far released 3 EPs to critical acclaim and been championed by the likes of Marc Riley on BBC 6Music. Laundromat is a project a long time in the making, Hayes says, the project has taken a while to bear fruition, but worth the wait and I look forward to hearing more from him in the future. Definitely one to watch.
Toby Hayes – vocals, guitar
Josie McNamara – bass
Max Kinghorn-Mills – guitar
Oliver Newton – drums
‘Bureau de Fatigue‘