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Video of the Moment #153: Friendly Fires

By on Wednesday, 7th October 2009 at 10:00 am

Courtesy of and much thanks to the friendly (no pun intended) people at Baeblemusic, we can bring you the live version of ‘Kiss of Life’ performed by everyone’s favourite dance pop band from St. Albans, Friendly Fires, at le poisson rouge in New York’s Greenwich Village on 12 August 2009. Click here to watch the entire sweaty gig at Baeblemusic’s Web site. I like to think I was one of the ‘boldly dressed concert goers’ described by their reviewers, and I do believe I spot the back of my head a couple times (one of their cameramen was right behind me the entire night). But never mind all that…just pull up a chair and enjoy the revelry.


Video(s) of the Moment #115: Friendly Fires

By on Friday, 28th August 2009 at 6:00 pm

We here at TGTF like Friendly Fires…and like them an awful lot. So much that I feel the need to share with you UKers two videos from the band’s debut appearance on American late-night television, on a show called Jimmy Kimmel Live on Tuesday night in Los Angeles. This was their last performance stateside before heading back to England for an appearance at Reading/Leeds this weekend.

Their new single ‘Kiss of Life’ was a wee bit tentative at the start…

But by the time they got to ‘Jump in the Pool’, they were definitely right back in their element:

The expanded version of Friendly Fires’ debut album, including a live DVD and song remixes, will be released on XL Recordings in the UK on 31 August.


Live Review: Friendly Fires and the xx at Music Hall of Williamsburg, New York City – 13th August 2009

By on Monday, 24th August 2009 at 2:00 pm

Part 1 of my Big Apple Friendly Fires mini-tour adventure was in artsy Greenwich Village. From my hotel and two subway rides and a longish walk away and I was outside the Music Hall of Williamsburg, run by the same folks who run the famed Bowery Ballroom, where part 2 awaited me. Friendly Fires played here before, in October 2008, when they opened for Lykke Li – rather inconveniently, their time with the Swedish pop princess did not include a stop in Washington. This meant that I didn’t get to see them in my hometown until they were headlining their own tour (well, actually co-headlining the NME Presents tour with White Lies).

Brooklyn feels like a world away from Manhattan, what us non-New Yorkers envision when we think about “New York City”. (Just so you know, New York is a considerable hike from Washington, so I’m familiar and comfortable with the city as much as you Brits are.) So I wondered if this crowd was going to be radically different from the one I saw the previous night. There wasn’t much room to move when we were inside le poisson rouge, so I hoped that with a bigger venue, I might actually be able to get my groove on, even though the gig was sold out. I did, sort of…read on…

d-mhw-xx3The venue reminds me of a small version of Washington’s 9:30 Club in set-up – there’s a balcony for people who want to look down and not fight with the crowd on the floor (which, in retrospect, might have been a safer vantage point for this concert). I was able to get a great spot – right at the speakers dead center of the stage – and the place was only slightly filled for the opening act, the xx. Their debut album ‘xx’ just came out last week on 17 August, and BBC 6music made it their album of the day on 20 August. They’re getting played on Radio1, which I take as a good sign. They make for a good match label-wise; the xx’s album was released on Young Turks, sister label to Friendly Fires’ XL Recordings, so it’s all in the family so to speak.

And while you might think it’s quite a leap from the xx’s musical style to Friendly Fires’s, think again: sexy music is sexy music, whether it be sultry lyrics paired with bass-heavy rock of the xx or pained yet exuberant lyrics about relationships combined with buoyant electropop from Friendly Fires. My knowledge of the xx was limited to hearing their singles on Steve Lamacq’s 6music programme, so I really didn’t know what to expect. Live, the xx didn’t disappoint. They are the real deal. The band has two singers – bassist Oliver Sim and guitarist Romy Madley-Croft – which makes for an interesting dynamic all too rare in popular music today. While the band has a subdued presence on stage compared to the Fires (read: they aren’t jumping around onstage and hitting percussion with gusto), they make up for it in emotional feeling in their songs. ‘Crystalised’ and ‘Basic Space’ were fabulous live, as well as their take on the Womack and Womack classic, ‘Teardrops’. I hope they tour in America soon, but urgent note to UKers: catch them in Britain while you can!

o-mhw-ff9You will find me down at the front for gigs, because it’s the only way I can guarantee I can see what’s going on stage. And when you’re at the front, you often lose track of what’s going on behind you. This is what happened at this gig. I turned around and was faced with a wall of people. Where did all these people come from? Obviously, they were here for Friendly Fires. I think the band and their crew were cognisant that gig-goers were not happy for the long wait the night before, so things were set quickly like clockwork and the band arrived on stage via a upper level stage door at the appointed time, to the thunderous applause to all their adoring fans in the club below. Two guys next to me pumped their fists in the air and yelled their heads off. This being my fourth Friendly Fires gig, I didn’t think much of the extremely loud shouting from excited fans. Vocalist/bassist/synth player Ed Macfarlane addressed us in a serious tone, with “we’re Friendly Fires. This is our second and last night in New York. I want to leave here with happy memories, so come on, please!” Looking back at it now, I laugh at this because he had absolutely no idea what was going to happen later that night.

The show was amazing, definitely one of the best gigs I’ve been to in all my life. Everyone in the venue, every girl and guy, knew all the words and were singing along loudly. They were dancing along and were so genuinely happy to be there. I was loving being able to move around and shake a tail feather, which is what Friendly Fires’s music is all about. The floor was moving up and down so much I wondered just how much more force would be required for the floorboards to break under our feet.

p-mhw-ff10‘Skeleton Boy’, complete with brass section, blew me away this night. It’s so very different from the album version (as are most of the songs they play on the road). Run, do not walk, to see Friendly Fires live. The album is great but live the songs are even better. ‘Kiss of Life’ gets my vote for the FIFA 2010 World Cup theme song; the Brooklyn crowd just loved it, and I think even football fans would appreciate its brilliance, especially with Edd Gibson’s wicked, wicked guitar solo that he should be playing on the music video. The only thing that could make Friendly Fires better live: new songs, or possibly them playing some covers to mix things up.

Then came…utter mayhem. During ‘Paris’, a drunk girl decided she had to get onstage, some way, somehow. While she was waving her arms about to the music, Macfarlane was down on the floor with the rest of us, singing away and reveling in the crowd’s reaction to the music. I am rather embarrassed to say this but, since it was through no fault of my own and it was the crowd pushing themselves forward to try to touch the man, I might as well own up to it: during the song, I got caught between him and the stage, completely unable to move. Eventually, he got back onstage and despite his best intentions to gently nudge the aforementioned drunk girl back down into the crowd, she didn’t want to leave, so one of the Fires’s crew had to pick her up and deposit her back into the waiting arms of the crowd. (Somehow this same girl made her way back onstage later to maul Macfarlane with a kiss when he was trying in vain to play his synth.)

While moshers were reported at Friendly Fires’s sold-out iTunes Festival gig in July, I certainly was not expecting this in America. Nor was I expecting the 25+ people who stormed the stage and joined the band for the encore of ‘Ex Lover’. I’m not sure if this is a preview of what’s to come, but it sure made one thing loud and clear: America loves Friendly Fires. And we’re eager to have them back here performing for us on this side of the pond. You Brits have no idea how lucky you are.


After the jump: setlists and photos.

Continue reading Live Review: Friendly Fires and the xx at Music Hall of Williamsburg, New York City – 13th August 2009


Live Review: Friendly Fires and Phenomenal Handclap Band at le poisson rouge, New York City – 12th August 2009

By on Tuesday, 18th August 2009 at 9:38 pm

e-lpr-phb4Le poisson rouge (“the red fish” in French) is a cute little club at number 158 Bleecker Street in New York’s Greenwich Village. A sign outside insists it “serves art and alcohol”, which sounds like a somewhat pretentious designation for a venue hosting Friendly Fires, a decidedly unpretentious band. Upon entering the club, you see that the small lobby upstairs sports an aquarium, set off on an angle, filled with koi (but not one truly red fish was to be seen). Why I am going on about LPR? I guess it’s because I never thought a band like Friendly Fires, whose members have insisted their music is for everyone, would be playing some place artsy-fartsy like this. However, after the end of a two-night mini-tour with the band, this was decidedly the swankier and more interesting of the two venues (for one, it’s got a very wide stage making it easier for punters to be closer to the action). But before I digress further, let’s get to the music…

Starting the evening off right were native New Yorkers the Phenomenal Handclap Band. Like most smaller bands I’ve come to know and love, I found out about them through a favourite BBC Radio show – specifically Radcliffe/Maconie on Radio2, who hosted the band for a short, three-song set the second week of July at the Manchester Oxford Road studios. On the strength of that performance, I was really looking forward to seeing this big band live. And I do mean big – their live show comprises 8 people, each who sing and play an instrument. If you like to dance to mad beats, kick-arse guitar lines, synths, cowbell, tambourines, or any combination of these – you will really like this band. The fresh ‘You’ll Disappear’ will remind you of the best, glitter ball disco tunes from the ’70s. The summery ’15 to 20′ has an infectious chorus and will get your whole body bopping to the beat. The PHB will be joining Friendly Fires out west for 2 California dates, in Pomona on 23 August and Los Angeles on 24 August), but us Washingtonians are lucky enough to have them all to ourselves at DC9 on 21 August.

After the stage was emptied of the PHB’s many instruments, it was time for Friendly Fires’s crew to start setting up their stuff. Sound problems caused this to take a lot longer than some of the patrons wanted to wait, who cat-called the crew and annoyed the rest of us who realized rather prudently that waiting for everything to be set just right would allow for the best performance possible by the band. Lead singer/synth player/bassist Ed Macfarlane was jumping up and down outside the green room door like Tigger, obviously impatient to get onstage and get things underway. It was well after midnight before the lights went down again and the band finally took the stage. Macfarlane, obviously upset by the delay and boos, ventured forth with an apology: “sorry for the wait. We’re going to make it up to you!” And with that, they launched into my absolute favourite track of theirs, ‘Lovesick’.

t-lpr-ff9Anyone who wanted to dance at the sold-out venue (which I believe was the majority of gig-goers that night) had only one option: sway with the rest of the crowd, which resulted in a mass of bodies pulsating to the Fires’s beats. With so many people, it was really hot, and after just dancing to and reveling in one song, I think everyone in the club was just as sweaty as the guys onstage. Macfarlane’s arms glistened with sweat as he sang and exhibited his now legendary inexhaustible style of dancing. This was the first time I got to see their new single ‘Kiss of Life’ performed live, and wow, it was great. Macfarlane introduced it by saying they had to play it a couple times after false starts to their concertgoers in Toronto but frankly, I couldn’t fault them for the version I heard this night. Jack Savidge’s drumming, Edd Gibson’s wicked guitar solo, and Macfarlane’s sultry vocals combined to make this one hot song for the summer. Maybe if they play it live more often, it’ll be even better…

The night ended with their now-usual set ender, ‘Ex Lover’, but with a twist. Per usual, Gibson got his cordless vacuum out and was driving it along the fretboard of his guitar and making zoom-y noises with it. Then Macfarlane surprised me by all of a sudden grabbing the speaker directly in front of me and turning it towards us, causing the screaming sounds from all the instruments to seem even louder. Cranking it up to eleven. Yep, that’s what the Friendly Fires are all about.

I’d like to give mad props to Will and the other staff at LPR for keeping things under control outside the venue, especially as many, many people walked up to the door nonchalantly expecting to buy tickets and then were shocked and upset when they were turned away, or turned up late and tried to jump the queue. It could have turned ugly and it didn’t, and they did their job with smiles.

After the jump: Setlists and photos…

Continue reading Live Review: Friendly Fires and Phenomenal Handclap Band at le poisson rouge, New York City – 12th August 2009


Video of the Day #92: Friendly Fires

By on Tuesday, 4th August 2009 at 6:00 pm


Friendly Fires – Kiss of Life

Yes, I love Friendly Fires a bit too much. This is their new single, a sort of stop-gap between albums. It’s no “Jump in the Pool” or “Paris”, but it is amazing, and the colours on this video are just amazing – so vivid, so bright, just how they should be for FF. Watch and enjoy.


Live Review: Lovebox 2009 – Saturday 18th July

By on Sunday, 19th July 2009 at 2:41 am

Dan Black (side live)Now in its 7th year, Lovebox has firmly established itself as a key fixture of the London summer festivals. I was fortunate enough to be invited along to check out the first day of this year’s two day event, catching the likes of Dan Black, Frankmusik, Florence and the Machine and Friendly Fires.

After a hideously long journey, I only just made it in time to pick up my tickets, which meant that I’d missed such great bands as The Temper Trap, VV Brown, Rumble Strips and tommy Reilly, all of which I was quite keen to catch. Diving straight in with a trip to the Gaymers stage (or the “other” stage to you and I), I caught Dan Black.

I’ve been raving about Dan for a while now, really loving his unique, accessible electro-pop, so I was keen to finally catch him in the flesh. Ploughing through a tonne of material from his new album, ((un)), both him and the crowd really enjoyed his set, with most people knowing the words to the bigger tunes. After “Symphonies”, Dan joked “right, I’ve done something intellectual – now time for something for your inner thug!” before launching into “I Love Life”. Playfully batting a giant inflatable apple around the crowd, Dan finished his set with “Alone”, commenting that “normally people can’t clap in time to that – I guess you’ve all done music GCSE!”. Well received,

Next I took a trek over to the main stage to catch Florence and her Machine. In fine form, she was doing her usual trick of keeping the security on their toes, running down front of the crowd, and giving it her all. When the heavens opened, she was anything but dampened, if anything it just gave her more energy as the umbrellas came out.

Flitting back to the Gaymers stage, I caught Frankmusik who I last saw supporting Keane at the O2 in London back in February. He’s moved on a fair bit, more comfortable with his songs, more banter – even offering to re-create the video to “In Step” if anyone had a hula hoop he could borrow. Short and sweet, his tunes are perfect pop bliss – danceable yet still fairly intelligent, just how I like my music.

Gang of Four were up next, and frankly I wish I hadn’t stayed for them. A bunch of past-it oldies who think they are still cool led to 50 minutes of shambolic dad-rock. Definately the odd ones out of the festival.

Finally, Friendly Fires headlined the Gaymers stage. My plan was to catch Friendly Fires and then wander over to check out Duran Duran for their last hour. However, yet again Friendly Fires blew me away, with an amazing light show to boot. The crowd was much nicer than the Roundhouse one of a few days ago, lots of dancing and no moshing, which was appreciated by this ageing 21 year old! “Kiss of Life” sounds bigger each time I hear it live, however the highlights are undoubtably Paris and Jump in the Pool, and I think they will be for some time to come.

After closing with Ex-Lover, I dashed over to see Duran Duran. After a so-so rendition of “Ordinary World” that seemed to appeal to the fans of reminiscing, and a front-man that tries a bit too hard to be cool in the shape of Simon Le Bon, I called it a night and headed back to the tube.

After the jump: some setlists, some photos.

Continue reading Live Review: Lovebox 2009 – Saturday 18th July


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There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest music, gigs, and tours we love and think you should too.

We love music that has its heart on its sleeve, tells a story, swims around our head all day or makes us dance like no-one's watching.

TGTF was edited by Mary Chang, based in Washington, DC.

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