As you reach a certain age, you begin to notice more and more folk in bands who you wouldn’t let over the threshold of the venue, never mind serve at the bar. (In Glasgow, they often turn out to bed the bar staff too, which makes you feel really old.) My point being that 4AD‘s new (literal) kids on the block, Pulled Apart By Horses, look like a band from an episode of The Inbetweeners. And, as such, most definitely never got to see At The Drive In live despite so very obviously loving their music. Never mind, they’ve got round that by forming their own tribute band to them.
And, this is not necessarily a bad thing. Painfully derivative as they may be (we start taking bets on how early in each track the guitarist will play above the nut), PABH (is this a good name for a band? I can’t make my mind up) play skewed rock with an energy that’s seriously not healthy. (With the exception of the drummer, who’s the spit of Bullet Baxter?) It’s all pipe cleaner legs and never stopping. Why be on this part of the stage when there’s another to throw yourself at over there. Or why bother staying on the bourgeois stage?
Energetic and, actually pretty damned, entertaining. Yes, we’ll leave the bar next time they’re in support slot on a bill. Ultimately, if they wore baggier trousers they’d just be another young metal band. Again, it’s a sign of my age that I expect something more from 4AD’s roster.
Andy Falkous, former frontman of Mc…no, let’s not go down that road. Because if there’s one thing tonight teaches us it’s that Future Of The Left (should there a ‘The’? I think so, but the records don’t have them) are moving out of the shadow of preconceptions. Or losing the baggage of expectation in the bus station of rock. Or whatever. The point is, tonight people are here to see this band not one some former member may have been involved with (and, god knows Jacrew were important to some).
So, tighter baldier and ready FOTL, take the stage. For the first time Falco is stood on the right on stage. Is this something symbolic of a break from the past, and only looking forward? (I’ve never sought clarification that the name of this lot is a reference to his position during gigs in a previous band.) Or, is it just because that pillar on the Stereo stage is a pain in the ass?
They open with Arming Eritrea. A dense rumbling beast of a new track, with requisite shouty stoppy bits, that builds to one of them epic chorus type things you never saw coming but which they do so well. It bodes well for the new album but more pressingly tonight.
What strikes me the most is a tightness not evidenced last time they played. Not that they were loose or sloppy then, but now you couldn’t put the proverbial cigarette paper anywhere in the band. The sound is fuller, the performance more confident. All ghosts have been laid to rest and FoTL are ready to take on the world. That decision to be the hardest touring band in Christendom has paid off, tenfold.
For a band that’s first album clocked in at around an hour, they’ve got a fair number of new classics. And they are greeted here as such. There are none of the calls for former glories. Instead a bouncing sing-a-long moshpit assuring us that Colin is indeed a very pretty pussy cat.
There’s an good natured antagonism between audience and band adding to the palpable tension in the performance. At one point Falco (as them in the know call him) suggests ocular intercourse so fervent that he audience member’s soul may achieve orgasm. All embraced in the good natured spirit it might not be intended in.
They finish with the usual extended rendition of Cloak The Dagger. Is raucous and seems to last forever, but not long enough.
Standing firmly on their own feet now, and taking on all comers. Ready to be your next favourite band, ready to be important and ready to meet whatever the future might have to throw at whatever side of the stage.
The bass player’s still an irritating nob, though. But, that’s all part of the parcel.