Andy Falkous looks like he’s spoiling for a fight, a geyser of ire waiting to blow behind his black eyes. “You’re all great and everything,” he says, “but the next song is dedicated to the ridiculous graphics [he gestures to the back of the stage] that are making the show seem like a combination of Tron and a show where a load of people left before we fucking played.” You can understand his irritation. It’s the opening night of Future Of The Left’s UK tour, in the 1,000-capacity Junction. There are, by NME’s swift headcount, 44 people here. What happened? Have all the punk kids been struck down by some virus that transmits itself through flannel shirts?
You certainly can’t find any fault with the band. Falkous is malevolently magnetic on ‘Fuck The Countryside Alliance’, sneering “meadows… meadows” as if grassland could be blamed for the turnout. On ‘Manchasm’ he seethes “Colin is a pussy, a very pretty pussy” like he knows more than one way to skin a cat, propelled by the ferocious energy of Jack Egglestone’s careering heart-attack drums and Kelson Mathias’ fluid, flexing bass. They’re not counting the seconds until they can scuttle offstage, either. When new track ‘The Hope That House Built’ doesn’t quite get off to the right beginning, Falkous just stops it and starts again. “If you don’t like it,” he offers, “you can go to the bar. Get a Cinzano, see if we give a fuck.”
No-one goes to the bar. We’re rewarded with a brutal, capitalism-skewering march, Falkous and Mathias chanting “come join, come join our lost cause”. Not content with graphic designers and corporate fatcats, though, they’ve one more prick to kick against tonight, in the shape of the giant lit-up snowman statue that graces the square outside. “Fuck the police, fuck Cambridge,” says Falkous. “Push the hideous fucking thing over.” “It’s an affront to all our humanities,” concludes Mathias. ‘Walking In The Air’ it ain’t, but closer ‘Cloak The Dagger’ sees the band get well and truly vented, Falkous bellowing away, Mathias coming offstage to get closer to his limited audience, Egglestone flailing away like Animal. Anger, a wise man once noted, is an energy. The sort of energy that can make 44 feel like 1,000.