Playing to a packed out Corporation, Future of the Left are one of the most eagerly awaited bands of the whole Tramlines festival (that is, for those of us who aren’t overjoyed at the thought of seeing Craig David or Tinchy Stryder) and so the excitement in the room is positively brimming. This gig is part of the post-Kelson Matthias tour, and so many of us are also waiting to see how the new line-up performs. It’s good, then, to see that new bassist Steven Hodson fits into Matthias’s shoes rather well, joining in with Andy Falkous’s snarling cynicism and bouts of insulting the crowd (and, more importantly, playing the bass parts rather well).
This gig turns out to be full of surprises. Firstly, Falkous unveils the new fourth member for a few new tracks. These tracks, however, prove to be uninteresting for the most part, with little of the madcap angularity or the deceptively catchy hooks we’ve grown to expect. Instead they mostly consist of straightforward hardcore thrashing, with little rhythmic or melodic deviation. The exception to this is the refreshingly bizarre destroywhitchurch.com, which features everything we expect from a FOTL song before mutating into a sparse rant for its final 3 minutes, filled with nonsensical rambling centred around spelling out the song’s title letter by letter. Secondly, there is no Manchasm, the keyboard having broken the week before. The band make no mention of this, however (I only found out from my girlfriend who saw them in Manchester on the day of the keyboard’s death), and just play on as if the song never existed. Thirdly, in a shocking move, they play three McLusky songs: Lightsabre Cocksucking Blues, To Hell With Good Intentions, and Collagen Rock. This makes one half of the audience squeal with glee and the other look nonplussed, illuminating the difference between the FOTL fans who are essentially hanging on after the demise of McLusky and the newer fans who regard the older band as an inferior version of FOTL. The decision to play these songs is a particularly surprising one, given Falkous’s previous public slatings of McLusky. Perhaps he’s finally started to like his old band again?
Despite all this, the main thing that has stayed in my mind since this gig is how much Falkous sweats on stage. Seriously, he is like a tap. He just GUSHES. I’ve seen my fair share of bands who throw every last bit of energy they have into their performances; screaming, jumping, dancing, hitting, running etc., sweating copiously the whole way through, but nothing quite prepared me for the sweaty onslaught of Andy Falkous.