It’s been a long time coming but Future Islands are having their moment and it was a pleasure to see. “This is our 15th, 16th, 17th time in London?” queried the Baltimore trio’s singer Samuel T Herring, surely aware that the vast majority of this sizeable audience had never seen his band before.
The reason for the change in fortune after four albums is a viral video of the group’s debut TV appearance, which revealed Herring to be one of the strangest men to lead an otherwise poppy, accessible group in some years.
With his barrel chest, tight T-shirt and smart trousers, it’s rather like watching a hipster synthpop act led by Simon Cowell, and that’s before he begins his repertoire of crouched, rubbery dance moves and impassioned hand gestures.
Initially I sensed a hint of mockery in the cheers that went up when he did anything from the YouTube clip, whether thumping his chest so hard that you could hear it, or lurching from his usual croon into a gut-wrenching metal roar. Herring needs to watch that he doesn’t become an indie Ricky Gervais, forever being urged to “do the dance”.
Yet as his intense between-song asides proved, he’s deadly serious. Once people became accustomed to his quirks, it was easy to be swept away by William Cashion’s crisp basslines and the retro synth washes of Gerrit Welmers.
They have the songs to turn this moment into something much bigger.