Future Islands’ most recent album As Long as You Are was released back in the dark days of 2020. This was probably a tour that was designed to showcase the record, but the march of time results in an evening that is more a celebration of the band’s whole back-catalogue. This results in a concert that is at times undeniably brilliant, but occasionally in this retrospective approach there are moments that drift. One thing is certain though. In Samuel T. Herring, the band have a frontman that can whip up a fervour and these more uninspired moments never stick around for long.
With all this in mind, the opening moments of the show are an absolute joy. ‘On the Water’ subtly sets the scene before the band from Baltimore explode with the joyful clemency of ‘For Sure’. It’s a song that provides highlights for all elements of the band. Exquisite synthscapes are bound by slick bass lines and percussion and Herring feeds on the inherent energy of the song, eyeballing the front row, as the guttural growls begin to emerge. ‘Hit the Coast’ and ‘Beauty of the Road’ maintain this anthemic groundswell of emotion and the crowd play their part, revelling in Herring’s energy.
There’s a period tonight when the focus remains for too long on the distant past, but it’s worth remembering that the band famously entered the consciousness of many after the 2014 album Singles and these moments cause the energy of the evening to drop. The majesty of ‘Light House’ therefore rekindles proceedings and the gentle ‘Moonlight’ paves the way for the first live performance of the brilliant, effervescent single ‘King of Sweden’. Once again, the band demonstrate what an essential ingredient to the Future Islands recipe they are amidst Herring’s passionate soul-searching.
The epic setlist therefore allows for these introspective moments, but there’s always one of the band’s more dynamic numbers just around the corner and ‘Seasons’ and ‘Ancient Water’ are gratefully appreciated. There is a sense however that one of these moments should have been reserved for the relatively reserved encore and some members of the crowd demanding tracks like ‘Ran’ and ‘Cave’ may have left disappointed when their cries were left unanswered.
This was a hugely rewarding evening in the company of one of music’s most captivating singers. Unlike previous performances however, the overall package is more nuanced, with an ebb and flow illustrating the shifting themes of all their records rather than focussing on the band’s most recent release.