Travels with myself and no other: Future Of The Left at Birmingham Academy 3

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That's a mighty big discrepancy, there. All these supposedly influential people trumpeting their excellence and yet still only a small minority of people have bought into the band's manifest excellence.

So I'm going to try my best to divorce myself from over a decade of being amazed by what the three members have done past and present. I shall endeavour to employ objectivity and my underused critical scalpel to dissect Future Of The Left and determine why many other people aren't rapt by this storm of miraculous noise.

Firstly, this band are not obsequious to the industry or the media. Andrew Falkous recording generic jingles to big up a radio station or brand? I don't think so. All those ways in which the Kooks and their ilk get down on all fours for the industry are not for these men.

Also the music media is intimidated by bands who are more intelligent than them, bands who would ask questions of their questions. Of course, our finest music journalists relish the challenge but there are too many fawning hacks. Pot. Kettle. "Black!" Yeah, yeah. I know.

Secondly, Future Of The Left say it like it is. This manifests itself in two ways that make the industry edgy and uncomfortable. They tell the truth (admittedly their version of the truth, but it's not diluted for public consumption). And they tell the truth using the kind of language many of us resort to when angered and impassioned.

During tonight's set (which I swear we'll get to before you evolve into a whole other species) bassist Kelson's stage asides alone would have had Bill Hicks wondering if a line of taste and decency had been destroyed. The people who book bands for Jools, T4 and Radio 1's summer beach extravaganzas would notice such things. And wouldn't touch them with a bargepole for that very reason. Having said that, they were on T4, weren't they? But one swallow, and all that.

Thirdly, to the uninitiated, Future Of The Left have one gear. It's loud and furious. Listen to the albums more than once and you hear subtleties and variety in the fuzz and the fury. To use an analogy that would make them want to squeeze my throat, tightly, they are all Gouge Away and no Here Comes Your Man. If Travels With Myself And Another had a Here Comes Your Man it could have been as massive and as long-term influential as Doolittle.

But, hang on, Travels does have The Hope That House Built, Yin / Post Yin, Throwing Bricks At Trains... these aren't recordings that will give people aneurysms. They're great crossover songs. Their failure to secure accessible airplay is symptomatic of a media failing to connect the best bands to the right amount of the correct demographic. And I suspect that the explanation lurks in the horrid marketing speak in that sentence.

Nothing these days is left to chance. Everything is focus-grouped to fakery. Great and innovative music is sidelined to the periphery (6Music, BBC Introducing, 1Xtra). It's a new status quo that mainly suits those who do the sidelining. It's certainly not doing the bands much good. They play to increasingly compartmentalised audiences. At least when Simon Bates played The Stone Roses, a few million people who had no particular t-shirt interest in NEW INDIE MUSIC got to hear 'em.

These fragmented audiences get to hear so many people bellowing about the brilliance / greatness / superbness / hotness / nowness of this / that and the other that they've stopped being moved by The Hyperbole. Audiences are too savvy, now. However this means that occasionally something passes through town that is worthy of the miracles promised on the billboards. And the audience don't turn up. Again, and this time in capitals: POT, KETTLE, "BLACK!"

How many greatest, most amazing, hottest records in the world today are an audience supposed to worship like lobotomised lambs before someone realises that this kind of hype isn't helping? Great music is about hues not hyperventilating, vacuous headlines.

So, eventually, and after enough words typed to have a measurable negative impact on the environment, we get to Birmingham.

My lonesome journey there was just as protracted. Think of this as an extended, bitter metaphor.

I've come all this way on my todd to see if Newport was a freak event. Why am I travelling by myself? Honestly? I'm a solitary person. I shed most of my 'friends' when I was in a band. And I continue to not-be-there for whoever is still interested by going on wild goose chases where the goose inevitably ends up plugging into a Marshall stack through a fuzzbox that sounds like the demolition of Hell.

I'm not here to be friends with the band. Christ, no. I feel desperately uncomfortable in the presence of these people who entitle me to wages that far outstrip their earnings. It's not right, is it?

Truly, the songs are my friends. Isn't that part of the reason we all love music? Which leads us to another truth about Future Of The Left. If you prefer people who fill you full of hot air, would rather soothe you with a platitude than tell you a necessary hard truth, then you're going to find the band very hard going. Just ask the girl in the audience who 'whooped' or the bloke who requested Mclusky's Rice Is Nice.

Anyway, anyway, anyway... the BBC will need a new server to host this blog on if I don't get on.

The O2 Academy 3 in Birmingham is horrid. It's mall live music. I'm surprised the backstage area isn't labelled 'Stock Room'. It's black, neon, rubbish plastic beer, sticky-carpeted and as atmospheric as a vacuum flask entering a black hole.

But that isn't the biggest problem with this venue.

While the band line-check just before they go on, sending slabs of bass and guitar like mountainsides over the audience's heads, my heart starts to beat a little faster in anticipation. It's lovely loud. Volume isn't an optional extra with rock 'n' roll. It is its breath.

However, when the band charge into Arming Eritrea some weird compression kicks in and the life gets squeezed out of the force on stage. Instead of a roar we get a strangled wheeze.

This isn't the band's fault. They rail against this kind of thing. It's evidence of the sanitisation of what once represented the primal yowl of the disaffected. Nowadays that yowl has to have a noise-limiter attached to it. Health and Safety stipulations, you know. Can't have you damaging your hearing.

Damaging myself any way I see fit is my inalienable right. How dare you pad all the sharp edges in my life and treat me like a child? How much more pasteurised can our lives become? I got so angry writing that that I spilled baked bean blood down my t-shirt. At least in the future I can look forward to it landing in a genetically engineered bib.

In short - and because your time is more precious than mine - Future Of The Left were great in Birmingham despite the PA and a mostly sedate audience. I had to leave early to catch my train. No one threw any bricks at it.

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