Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Review: Future of the Left - Live @ The Zoo 03/01/2010

Jonathan Chapelle enters the Zoo stage right wielding his bass like some kind of infantry weapon and shouts at the crowd “We’re fucking Belle and Sebastian”. What follows is an onslaught of punk-edged aggression from legendary, and now sadly departed, welsh alternate rock group mclusky. That was 2004.

In 2010 you’ll find that mclusky has long since dissolved. It seems that guitarist/vocalist Falco* and Chapelle were unable to work together after a bust up over some stolen equipment while on tour in the States. Chapelle moved to Australia, while Falco and the other member of the mclusky triad, drummer Jack Egglestone, linked up with ex-Jarcrew bassist Kelson Mathias to form Future of the Left, a band which weaves intense tales about unknown and perhaps deranged individuals with names such as Rick and Colin channeled through distorted and bouncy bass lines and chainsaw-like guitar riffs. Thus far, they’ve released two excellent records, “Curses” (2007) and “Travels with Myself and Another” (2009). They graced to the Zoo in Brisbane this week to share a few saucy tales. And what a fine night of entertainment it was.

Unfortunately, I’m too late to catch local stalwarts Giants of Science. I arrived at 9.30pm, immediately ordered two scotch and ginger ales and found a spot at a decent distance from the stage hoping to avoid the mosh pit onslaught that will inevitably follow with the emergence of the headliners. Always punctual, Future of the Left arm themselves with instruments on the dot of 9.45, and immediately smash into “Travels…” opener ‘Arming Eritrea’ with the trademark scathing guitar and bass attack. This is quickly followed by ‘Chin Music’, and the brutal ‘Small Bones, Small Bodies’.

Much of “Travels with Myself any Another” is on display tonight, including a great version of ‘Stand by Your Manatee’ as well as ‘I am Civil Service’. Songs from “Curses” also get a good run, the roof of the Zoo nearly lift during ‘Plagues of Onces’. Later in the set, Mathias gives the crowd the option of ‘The Lord Hates a Coward’ or ‘Drink Nike’. How democratic. The crowd selects the latter with a voracious roar of approval.

Falco gives his voice a bit of a beating as he screeches in time to the razor-sharp sound of his own guitar. I’m surprised he hasn’t ripped his voice box to shreds by now. He switches to his Roland Juno-60 keyboard to perform ‘Manchasm’, ‘You Need Satan More than He Needs You’ as well as ‘Yin/Post Yin’, and a song that drummer Jack is fonder of than his band companions. I know because they make it plainly obvious in the pre-song banter.

Speaking of banter, Falco and Mathias are both genuinely funny guys readily engaging in tirades or making mock observations about the state of the world as we know it, exchanging verbal spars between themselves and with the crowd. At one stage Mathias takes a gift of a bottle of ballatynes scotch from a punter in the crowd morosely hoping that it is not laced with rohypnol. During another pause in the set, Falco pauses to expresses his admiration and desire for Susan Boyle. By the end of their regular set, the band announce that they don’t usually do encores, but state that when they walk off, should the crowd make a limp attempt to applaud, they would be back on in under two minutes.

Things proceed exactly as directed, and they emerge to finish the night off with a few short numbers such as ‘The Hope that House Built’ amongst what turns out to be an extended noise jam in which Falco gradually moves parts of Egglestone’s drumkit to different sections of the stage , reducing the percussionist to simply a hit-hat at one stage. Though, that doesn’t stop him from beating the living crap out of his cymbals though.

Might as well close the books on the ‘best Zoo performance of 2010’ award already, I’m not sure if any band in 2010 will top Future of the Left’s efforts on this sweaty January night.

* Not the same character from the Nintendo game Starfox, but certainly a character.


ian said...

Darragh - first time on yr blog & melikes...nice work!I was also at FOTL & was mightily impressed, well worth the drive from Lismore...nice to see a good visceral rock show every so often. Yesm they played all the greats, but I would have liked a few more songs off 'curses' (the superior album in my humble opinion)...other complaint was that the bass was too low in the mix. The final finale...I dunno, fun & chaotic but I've seen that kinda thing a million times before...can get dangerously contrived (but then I'm a jaded old bastard!). BTW, have you ever notived how similar Kelso's voice is sometimes to Dick Lucas from the (UK) Subhumans...

Am gearing up for more bris culture with Dirty 3 in afew weeks (YES!!!!)...I heart Hiroshima also looks tasty. In blogness...

Darragh said...

Hi Ian, thanks for your comment and your kind words.

I too wish they had played a bit more 'Curses'. I particularly would have liked to seen Team Seed, but alas, no. I would also liked to have heard "That Damned Fly" from "Travels.." but again, not there. Still, I thought it was solid.

While I shouldn't compare, I recall the mclusky show at the zoo years back and it was pretty brutal, but not as engaging.

Can't comment on the mix - where I was standing, I thought it was ok. I've heard worse at the Zoo before.

Never heard the Subhumans, might check them out. Have you any recommendations?

ian said...

hmmmm...Subhumans are an old potentially embarrasing punk rock might cringe - have a look at myspace i guess. Checked some of yr recommendations - I know none of these bands/folk...clearly I need to lift my game!

Darragh said...

Ian - thats what the blog is here for - sharing music. If you have any good suggestions for music, feel free to drop us a line here!