Cardiff Sub 29
8 December 2008

Does anyone remember XTC? They were a Swindon band that had some minor success in the late ‘70s and early 80’s, most notably “Making Plans for Nigel” and “Senses Working Overtime”. The reason I mention is that back in the halcyon days of early punk/new wave they rivalled The Clash as my favourite band, but due to the lead singer developing stage fright they stopped touring in 1981. However when I first heard The Futureheads in 2004 I was instantly reminded of them and their unique brand of hyperactive pop.

I just loved The ‘Heads eponymous debut and played to the point that I actually got sick of it. I was not overly enamoured with “Hounds of Love” but pleased for the success and publicity it brought the band. Watching them several times they were a joy to behold and Sunderland's finest could always be relied on to put on an entertaining show, including much inter-song banter between the band members. And then things started to go wrong. Quite frankly their second album “News and Tributes” stank the joint out and sold as well as Irish pork sausages. They were quickly unceremoniously dumped by their rcords label 679 and must have seriously considered splitting.

Pic Jon Luton

So it was with some trepidation that I learned that they were self financing a new album “This Is Not The World”, on their own label Nul Records.  However the release marked a return to form, and moreover contained plenty of the jangly guitar driven close harmonied sound used so successfully in their debut album. Therefore I found myself on a wet Monday evening (accompanied by my ever faithful side kick The Pitman) at Cardiff newest music venue Sub 29. In fact it turned out to be another name for the long established comedy club Jongleurs, and therefore could comfortably hold around 800 people, although given the inclement weather, credit crunch and proximity to Christmas I feared the turn out my be sparse. Luckily this was not the case and about 500 punters awaited the return of Messrs Hyde, Hyde, Millard and Craig.
They certainly did not lack any confidence as they immediately launched into one of the best numbers (and my personal favourite) “Decent Days & Nights” closely followed by another cracker “Meantime”. Suddenly it was 2004 again, and all the self doubt that had plagued their last tour evaporated, as they showed why they once had a reputation as one of the best live bands going. They genuinely seemed to be enjoying it and seemed to have learned their lesson as only one track (“Skip to the End”) came from their turgid second album, with the rest equally split between their debut and latest offering.

Pic : Huckle 26

Whilst “Hounds of Love” obviously was well received, the biggest cheer was reserved for one of their latter singles “Beginning of the Twist”. And so they carried on with each number being interspersed with comic asides between the band members. In no particular order, they belted out “Stupid and Shallow”, “Man Ray”, “Walking Backwards”, “Radio Heart”, “This is Not The World”, “Area”, “Think Tonight”,“Carnival Kids” and “Broke Up Time”.
Having initially been somewhat sceptical about what tonight would bring, I am happy to report that The Futureheads look back on form, with the only critism being that the setlist excluded any new numbers.  However I would have no reservations about recommending catching them on the remainder of the tour, and hopefully 2009 will bring a new album and a return to the Principality.