Live Review

Friendly Fires, Barrowlands, Glasgow

Tonight’s final festive show of 2011 at Glasgow’s famous Barrowlands sees the band at the very top of their game.

One of the most powerful aspects of music and, in particular, live music is its ability to make people move and dance and take them to another place. The best live performances are almost transcendental experiences. Friendly Fires are a band that recognises better than most how to transport a crowd into that euphoric place for an hour and a half and it is this special gift that has led to the St Albans band becoming one of the UK’s best live acts. Tonight’s final festive show of 2011 at Glasgow’s famous Barrowlands sees the band at the very top of their game.

The Friendly Fires live experience is akin to something of a soul-funk revue with their now customary horn section and pulsating funk rhythms, everything is centred on the groove and making the audience dance. Following the release of their second album ‘Pala’ last Spring, it appears that the production has also stepped up a level with striking strobe lighting present throughout and a video screen which features the swooping multi coloured wings of the parrot which adorns the album artwork. These extra flourishes all add to the sensory experience of the show but the most important thing, as ever, is the music, with two albums now to choose from the set is crammed full of hits and captivates from start to finish.

New songs sit perfectly alongside the old with the soaring chorus of ‘Blue Cassette’ being met just as joyously by the crowd as the sing-along first album highlight ’Jump In The Pool’ One thing that is noticeable about the crowd is how many people seem to be trying to ape singer Ed MacFarlane’s signature hip shaking dance moves. Commendable as the crowds efforts are though they are no match for MacFarlane’s joyous exuberance as he bounds through a pulsating ‘On Board’ and carries the loping groove of ‘Show Me Lights’ with swaggering insouciance.

Perhaps the most impressive thing about tonight’s show are the performances of some of the more unheralded album tracks and songs like ‘True Love’ and ‘Running Away’ which sound rather laboured on record come alive during tonight’s show bolstered by the horn sections and the bands striking intensity. Friendly Fires do not do things by half measures.

The encore, featuring a rousing ‘Hawaiian Air’ and a closing elongated version of ‘Kiss Of Life’ ending with a mesmerising coda of carnival drumbeats, is a particularly special moment and the band seem exhausted by the effort that they have put in. The crowd no doubt will feel exhausted too as their dancing does not seem to stop from the first song to the last on a celebratory night for both band and audience which caps off a year that has seen Friendly Fires truly cement their reputation as one of the UK’s best live bands.

Read More

Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.
Your subscription has been successful.

Stay Updated!

Get the best of DIY to your inbox each week.

Latest Issue

April 2024

With Bob Vylan, St Vincent, girl in red, Lizzy McAlpine and more.

Read Now Buy Now Subscribe to DIY