Live Review: Friendly Fires with the xx at Paradise Rock Club, Boston – 04 December 2009

By on Thursday, 10th December 2009 at 2:00 pm

a-paradiseHabits are hard to break. This particular habit of mine isn’t especially dangerous (I’m not including getting stepped on by drunks in Brooklyn) or detrimental (unless you count lack of sleep). This year, my worst habit of all has been looking longingly and futilely at Friendly Fires‘s tour dates and scheming ways to get to their gigs. Most of the time, an event is ridiculously expensive to get to that it’s worthless to even consider trying to go. (Two examples: Splendour in the Grass in Australia and Calvi on the Rocks, anyone?) Why all the scheming? The band has not returned to D.C. since they played here in March with White Lies on the NME Presents Tour, so if I’ve wanted to see them, I’ve had to travel. This time I went for the Nylon Magazine Winter Music Tour stop in Boston, Massachusetts – over 300 miles northeast of Washington. The Fires played a sold-out show there at the Paradise Rock Club with fellow Beggars Group act the xx.

I was lucky that night for a couple different reasons. One, I actually had a ticket in hand, unlike one of my good friends and many other people we met who arrived at the club early trying to find someone who had an extra or two to sell. I’m not sure how many people actually got in this way. Two, Boston was experiencing unseasonably mild weather (although the corduroy jacket I’d chosen to wear that night was still ill-advised, as when I stood outside of the club for a short time before the bar to the club opened, I thought my arms might freeze off). Three, I had seen the xx earlier at their in-store at Newbury Comics, and it sounded like some people at the gig were unaware that there had even been an in-store. Once inside, most people I talked to were most excited to bop along to Friendly Fires but they were interested in seeing the xx because the xx had never played in Boston before. I filled some people in on them, so I think I helped garner some additional excitement for the xx’s set.

e-xx4The xx Romy Madley-Croft on vocals and guitar, Oliver Sim on vocals and bass, and Jamie Smith on percussion and programming – came out from under the cover of darkness. A minimal show of coloured lights brightened the stage slightly during their set but kept things dramatic for the xx’s brand of dream pop. I’ve seen this band four times now (if you count the earlier in-store), and I have yet to be disappointed in their performance. The beauty of the vocals and guitar work of Madley-Croft and Sim have to be heard live to be believed. With its steamy lyrics and melodramatic percussion, ‘Infinity’ is my current favourite. If you don’t feel the desire within the song and it doesn’t start oozing out of your pores, you must not have a pulse. Since this was an opening slot, they only played eight songs. But they already have another North American jaunt scheduled for next year.

l-ffires5And then there were Friendly Fires. It seemed incomprehensible to me that I had seen them perform less than 4 months ago in New York; surely more time had passed than that? When Nylon Magazine announced back in July that Friendly Fires had been chosen to headline their first-ever Winter Music Tour to set the winter on fire, they weren’t kidding. For sure, this style of music is great year round but even more so in winter, when everyone’s suffering from seasonal affective disorder and wondering when the sun will shine again. That night at the Paradise, multicoloured lights shimmered brightly from the stage as Friendly Fires played hosts to a lively dance party.

A personal favourite, ‘Lovesick’, with its wicked bass lines from touring bassist Rob Lee and Jack Savidge‘s pounding backbeats, got the party started. Singer Ed Macfarlane shimmied like a man possessed on ‘In the Hospital’, the audience cheering him on with gusto. Edd Gibson ran around the stage with his guitar, eager to give every section of the venue some of his precious attention. I admired the way the band powered through the high-octane ‘On Board’. (Incidentally, the song will be available on an extremely limited edition 12″ at specialist record shops and at their dance party at London’s Coronet on Friday.) The band’s energetic routine lasted all the way through ‘Paris’ and ‘Ex Lover’, the band’s last two songs and the ones that received the most applause. But then it was over. Now we wait – rather impatiently I might add – for album #2!

After the jump: set lists and photos.


The xx photos:




The xx set list:
Basic Space

Friendly Fires photos:







Friendly Fires set list:
Jump in the Pool
Skeleton Boy
In the Hospital
White Diamonds
Kiss of Life
On Board
Ex Lover

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[…] for a few days from the office and hopped on a plane to go see my friends Friendly Fires play a show sponsored by Nylon Magazine. I purchased the album at the famous Newbury Street location of Newbury Comics, where I also saw the […]

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