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Review: Music

Future Islands

Future Islands

SWG3, Glasgow

Jonathan Geddes

FAME may have arrived for Future Islands, but their rider requests remain simple. "We've had a crate of Buckfast delivered in the back," quipped their shamanic frontman Samuel T Herring, displaying a knowledge that comes from five visits to Glasgow. That number might have surprised a few folk because, while the quartet's career stands at eight years, notoriety only recently arrived for them.

A factor in that was an appearance on David Letterman that went viral, highlighting Herring's qualities, and in a full gig setting his charisma was magnified.

If the remainder of the band ply their synth-pop in an understated, machine-like manner that suggests icy disassociation, then Herring channels the everyman, we're-in-this-together spirit of Bruce Springsteen.

His vocal is certainly unique, going from soulful to a growl that recalls the Honey Monster from old Sugar Puffs adverts. Sugar is the last thing he would seem to require, though, as his chest-beating, pelvic-thrusting, moon-walking moves were a continual display of giddy, wild-eyed emotion. In places, it seemed like he was dragging the weaker songs along himself by sheer showmanship.

Those tunes could occasionally fall between two stools a little awkwardly, jamming liquid melodies with aggressive noise unevenly. Yet their most purposeful numbers were both daring and direct, from the arch bass that propelled Balance to Doves funk. Tin Man simply embraced noise vividly, and Spirit sounded like a more warm-hearted Kraftwerk.

Before that had been Seasons (Waiting For You), their Letterman song. Here it was injected with sing-a-long, fist-pumping machismo, letting Herring stand tall, sweat dripping off his brow as he commanded the crowd. He was lost in the moment, and you couldn't blame him.

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