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The Futureheads / Declan Welsh & the Decadent West

Updated: Nov 5, 2019

Gig Review by Polyphonic Knight

Location: Queen Margaret Union, Glasgow, 24/09/2019

A rather small audience in the QMU were treated to an intimate performance by The Futureheads and Declan Welsh & The Decadent West, which was filmed for the upcoming series 2 of BBC Alba's 'ALT' - the music series celebrating the UK music scene. As the main purpose of the event was for the recording, it had a strange atmosphere. It certainly didn't feel like a gig, more like a private party you stumbled into. Hey, it was a night of free entertainment so no complaints.

The Futureheads took the stage first and transported the crowd back to the mid-2000's – the golden age of British post-punk revival. It's been 15 years since the release of The Futurehead's debut album in 2004, and after a hiatus lasting the best part of the decade, the band are back touring again in support of their new album.

The short setlist saw the band run through some older songs like 'Decent Days and Nights' (do you remember it from the Burnout 3: Takedown video game soundtrack?!) and 'The Beginning of the Twist', and including several new songs 'Electric Shock' and 'Listen, Little Man!' all in their signature upbeat style. It's quite unusual for all members of a rock band to contribute to vocal duties, but The Futureheads excel in this area - often operating in a distinct 'call and response' type interplay. Whilst they didn't play it this time, their cover of the Kate Bush song 'Hounds of Love' is a perfect example of the technique.

'Animus' was the only real weak point. The lower vocal register of this particular song by lead vocalist Barry Hyde and the rhythmically repetitive guitar parts just felt lacking in comparison to the other songs. The highlight of The Futurehead's set was another new song 'Good Night Out'. A strong chorus of layered voices and antiphonal back and forth guitar chords shared between the guitarists Barry Hyde and Ross Millard during the verses really captured the quintessential style of their genre.

It's always a bit surprising that The Futureheads never enjoyed the same level of success as some of their contemporaries like Franz Ferdinand. The style may have fallen out of fashion, but The Futureheads know what they do, and they do it well - if it ain't broke...

Up next were Declan Welsh & The Decadent West, who stepped in last minute to replace Paws, who unfortunately had to cancel their performance due to an injury. Despite being slightly disappointed about not seeing them (whilst wishing a speedy recovery), the replacement was a pleasant surprise.

The Glaswegian group is fronted by Declan Welsh, songwriter and poet who certainly doesn't shy away from social commentary and political issues. Bonus points for having the musicianship and refined songwriting ability to craft these topics into great songs. The obvious standout of the set is the disco-inspired 'How Does Your Love', with Welsh effortlessly transitioning into a falsetto chorus without losing any vocal power nor missing a note, and absolutely owning the stage with undeniable charisma throughout.

With regular festival slots under their belt already it won't be surprising to see the band continue towards the bigger stages.

Declan Welsh & The Decadent West's debut album 'Cheaply Bought, Expensively Sold' will be released on 18/10/2019


The Futureheads new album 'Powers' is out now


Details of BBC Alba's Alt Series 1 performances can be found at: