Future Islands, Barrowland, review: Singer Samuel Herring's own peculiar brand of performance is famously mesmerising

He moves with grace and power; skimming halfway across the stage with a sliding footsweeps and powerful Cossack high kicks

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The Independent Culture

You could watch Baltimorean synth-rock quartet Future Islands with the sound muted and still have a perfectly enjoyable time. Singer Samuel Herring’s own peculiar brand of performance is famously mesmerising.

He’s not a lithe figure, but he moves with grace and power; skimming halfway across the stage with a sliding footsweep here, busting into a powerful Cossack high kick there. His vigorous, snake-hipped twerk during ‘Doves’ loose electro-funk is surely one of the unlikeliest expressions of pure joy to grace a stage this year.

Although with no sound, of course, the listener would miss that most muscular of death metal snarls which he peppers these light and breezily sensual songs with, and which worked so well in grabbing the wider public’s attention when it broke the wonderful ‘Seasons (Waiting On You)’ (afforded a fiery reception here) during that famous Letterman appearance 18 months ago. They’re a band who have hit a particular sound with precision, and they stick to it, albeit with more visceral immediacy than on record – ‘Balance’ and ‘Heart Grows Cold’, for example, bounce with a joyful club beat over the heart-tugging elegiac synth lines. Amidst it all, Herring dishes out thanks in a warm, humble drawl, as if a performance of such honesty and individuality was never going to find the attention it deserves.

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