Friendly Fires live review by Ryan Beardsley

Back in the indie hay days of 2008, when festivals still had bands in the headline slots, Friendly Fires released their self-titled debut LP and were duly thrust into the limelight. A Mercury prize nomination, appearances on video games and popular TV shows, they seemed to be everywhere for a time.

Now some 15 years later, the boys from St Albans are back for a special anniversary tour of their beloved debut and as a fan from way back when, I’m intrigued to see how the tracks hold up and if there is a new generation of fans along for the ride.

The short answer is yes, the happy mix of dance, pop and indie that made Friendly Fires a student household name hasn’t aged a day, set/LP opener Jump In The Pool proves that and has the crowd chanting along from the off.

Stand-out single Paris is still an indie classic, momentarily transporting the thirty-something crowd back to the uni disco from whence it came.

Skeleton Boy exemplifies what made that first record so popular, a beat so catchy you can’t help but move your feet and a singalong chorus that will still resonate for a twenty-one-year-old looking for their place in the world.

Frontman Ed MacFarlane really is something. I remember watching the band in Spain of all places some 15 years ago and he was like a mix between Ian Curtis and Jagger, tonight was no different. The man never stops moving and I was tired just watching him. What I will say is his dancing and pelvic thrusts are borderline hypnotic, I’ve never been a dancer but even I watching the gig sober, I couldn’t help but shake my hips in spite of myself.

We get an encore of more recent material after the first album is wrapped up but only second album favourite Hawaiian Air has the same impact on the London crowd.

I’m waiting for the set closer and praying for what is undoubtedly the band’s finest work; sophomore album opener Live Those Days Tonight, which is not only their most accomplished song but genuinely one of the all-time great track one, side ones. But instead, they play Kiss Of Life, a bonus single from the first record, which I get given the nature of the tour.

But the Troxy falls a little flat, none more so than me and I’m not a happy chappie. Play the hits boys. Other than that small faux pas it’s a great show and hopefully, they show their faces around the festival circuit this summer.

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