Review: The Futureheads, Sunderland Minster

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THERE can be few music venues in the city better than Sunderland Minster.

And few, if any, bands in Sunderland better than The Futureheads.

So when these two factors collide, it’s pretty much going to be a satisfaction guaranteed kind of gig.

The Minster was of course built with music in mind and the sight of the city’s favourite musical sons belting out new tracks and classic hits in a spellbinding acoustic set has to be a gig highlight of the year.

The four-piece were on top form, especially charismatic front man Barry, punctuating their super-tight harmonies with Mackem twang banter.

Their latest album release, Rant, is an a capella record which lent itself perfectly to the Minster, as their rousing vocals resounded around the rafters. It seemed odd to be downing booze in a church, a make-shift bar had been set up in a back room, but then this was a gig that, despite its religious setting, had a tankards-in-the air, ye olde tavern vibe about it.

Never more so than during The Old Dun Cow, an infectious traditional ode to a pub catching fire and its raucous patrons getting “paralytic drunk” and “someone screaming MacIntyre.”

The sea shanty stands in stark contrast to some of Rant’s other tracks including a cover of Kelis’ A Capella, a performance of which on Radio 1’s Live Lounge was the spark of inspiration for the album.

The Black Eyed Peas are also given a nod on the album with a cover of Meet me Halfway which manages to infuse the track’s melancholy lyrics with more meaning than the original.

That’s the beauty of the Futureheads: they’re a band whose career never sticks to the same path, it’s full of unexpected twists and turns.

What was expected though was renditions of their most famous tracks – they were never going to get away with playing their first hometown gig this year without doing Hounds of Love and Beginning of the Twist.

The latter is a track inextricably linked to the city after being adopted by the Stadium of Light and the lads did the track proud, sending it soaring around the Minster.

This music spectacle was thanks to Pop Sex Ltd, a label set up by fellow musicians Frankie & the Heartstrings in a bid to carve out new creative experiences in Sunderland.

If the Futureheads were a taster of future gigs in the city, long may it continue.