Live Review

Friendly Fires, RockNess 2010

Rigorous cowbell-banging and irresistible beats.

Are Friendly Fires really ready for a main stage appearance? After all, despite their debut album being released in 2008, it’s only in the past year that most of us have come to know the band’s unique mix of infectious, poppy hooks and house-inspired beats. The pressure’s on for this hype-smothered band, but judging by the size of the crowd that awaits them, they’ll be okay.

The St Albans trio are accompanied tonight by the impressive horn section that have become a staple of their live set in recent months, adding a particular sense of class as the band launches into ‘Lovesick’. Singer Ed McFarlane, as always, effortlessly dances like the lovechild of Ian Curtis and Justin Timberlake, keeping every step perfectly in time with the samba-inspired drums and roaming guitars. In fact, the only thing spoiling this instantly atmosphere-creating opener is the sound. The audience finds itself straining to hear McFarlane’s range-spanning voice, and ultimately it sounds a bit flat. This problem also takes away from the new songs which are debuted tonight, but from what can be heard they sound sultrier, more subdued, but still seductive. Perhaps if the last album was the party, this one will be the sleepy morning after.

Back to the hits, though, and despite the sound problems the fans cheer, stomp and shimmy their way through ‘In The Hospital’, while ‘On Board’ sees some rigorous cowbell-banging and irresistible beats causing everyone in sight to dance - admittedly with questionable results. McFarlane’s gentle voice is used to its full potential during ‘Strobe’; a song that provides a rare, hypnotic sense of calm in an otherwise rowdy set. But it’s ‘Jump In The Pool’ that gets the biggest reaction - and with the mass singalong it provokes, it’s easy to see why. Despite all this fan adoration, though, it’s not clear whether the band themselves are happy with their performance. Their energy is boundless, but not quite relaxed. As McFarlane reassures the crowd more than once that they’re “just getting started”, it’s apparent that any technical issues are bothering no one but themselves.

Friendly Fires’ contribution to the festival is ended with ‘Paris’ and ‘Ex Lover’, and as the band wearily walk off stage, it’s hard not to root for the next album and beyond. As long as they start believing in themselves just a little bit more, they’ll surely be gracing many main stages to come.

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