Friendly Fires - Rockness - Gigs - Reviews - Soundblab

Friendly Fires - Rockness

by Louise Harlow Rating: Release Date:

The last time I saw Friendly Fires was at Leeds Fest two summers ago in one of the more modest sized tents in the arena- you know, the ones where you fire up a cigarette, security spots you, makes you stub it out in front of 300 people and it's all quite embarrassing..... Either way, they were magnificent, combining early material with a boisterous Florence Welch-worrying take on 'You've Got The Love'. Rather pathetically I didn't make it onto my feet for any part of their set (this was the Sunday and I had dutifully over-celebrated by this point) but even from welly level the itch of their euphoric dance escapades was on me.

Ed Macfarlane et al had the dubious fortune of following maple leaf frenzy merchants Crystal Castles onto the main stage in Friday's early evening sunshine. Whilst this gifted them a crowd already on the far side of giddy (read: berserk) there is always a danger that anyone following up Alice Glass's stage/pit based rampage is going to come off looking listless at best. What, however, ensued was a carpet ride through pogo synths and hip-engaging beats, shot through with Macfarlane's oscillating vocals and dunked in a big vat of sweat. (Which is no less than you would expect from the man who has bemoaned in interviews the on-stage inertia of MGMT: 'Come on! I like this song, make some f**king effort!')

No shocker then that the Friendly Fires spectacle went down a treat. It is the trio's unapologetic commitment to delivering winning, insistent pop which raises their game onto a higher plane. Fleshed out by the samba band that was whipped out for special occasions during 2009's live performances, the band machine through the good stuff from 2008's eponymous long player. Rippling like a human disco slinky, Macfarlane blisters through the falsetto uplift of 'Kiss of Life' and 'Photobooth', and proves with the three-man percussion funk of 'On Board' that his outfit is more than a pretender to the dance-punk throne vacated by James Murphy's LCD alias.

'Jump in the Pool' generates the biggest jump-off of the set, with the crowd bouncing on an irresistibly elastic bass line and matching Macfarlane word for word. And set-closer 'Paris' is delivered with such sweaty, heartfelt fervour that by the end I am 99 per cent convinced that come the end of the night I will be Seine-side avec the Fires, watching the city lights come out for us....

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