Friendly Fires at the Guildhall (16/12/11)


Finally Friendly Fires actually made it to the Guildhall. The long awaited appearance of the disco house trio eventually arrived, after frontman Ed MacFarlane suffered a horrible case of laryngitis. This led to many of their UK gigs having to be postponed to later dates. Supported by the operatic/techno vibes of Chad Valley and the brilliantly eccentric Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs (TEED), it was sure to be an evening to enjoy after the anxious wait.
After modestly setting up his own equipment, the crowd obviously oblivious to who he was, Chad Valley performed. A lot of the crowd had never heard of him or his music, and this made it tough to interact. However, despite this, he did what he does best and blasted through his set playing songs such as ‘Now That I’m Real (How Does It Feel?)’.  To be fair to the guy, he was very good live and managed to keep up flawless echoing vocals throughout.

Next up were TEED. Walking out in a bright blue dinosaur onesie, frontman Orlando “Lando” Higginbottom stood behind an enormous array of equipment and began. Playing the likes of ‘Garden’ and ‘Moon Hits the Mirrorball’, it was hard not to dance along to the infectious electro beats. Accompanied by two fellow (female) dinosaur backing dancers alongside him, TEED really got the crowd warmed up for the arrival of Friendly Fires and put on a great show. I’m pretty sure they gained a few more fans after their performance.

The famous Scarlett Macaw filled the big screen, and out walked frontman Ed MacFarlane followed by his band. They kicked off with ‘Lovesick’. Notorious for his insanely energetic disco dancing, Ed bounded around the stage when the initial beat dropped. Despite the high energy dancing, his vocals remained faultless throughout the whole set. Next they played “the one everybody knows” ‘Jump in the Pool’, followed by ‘Running Away’ and ‘Blue Cassette‘. After seeing Friendly Fires this year at Glastonbury Festival, I wondered how they would be able to top that performance. But they nailed it and were definitely on form, living up to the high standards set by previous live performances.

Ed insisted on apologising to the crowd for having to reschedule due to his laryngitis, and declared that he and his band would make it up to us that evening. When the opening bass notes began, the whole crowd went mad for ‘On Board’. As someone who has seen Friendly Fires before, I knew what was coming. Ed took crowd interaction to a whole new level and came down to dance with us, literally walking up the sides of the Guildhall and dancing with crowd members. Another highlight of the night had to be ‘Skeleton Boy’, which in my opinion is always incredible live and hard not to dance along to. A relaxing moment in a mainly high energy set had to be the album’s title track ‘Pala‘. Scarlett Macaw filled the screens one more time and allowed the crowd time to rest their dancing hips.

They ended their set with ‘Paris’, then filled their encore with the two hard hitters ‘Hawaiian Air’ and ‘Kiss of Life’, the excited teens in the crowd brandishing their Hawaiian shirts in the air and begging for just one glance from Ed. I left the Guildhall after snagging a setlist and bumped into the man himself. He explained all about his laryngitis and signed my setlist for me, then jumped back on the tour bus to the next place in the country.

Overall I can honestly say I have no complaints: it was a fantastic gig with an awesome atmosphere. Bring on the next album and tour!


About Author

I’m Megan Downing, an English Literature graduate from University of Southampton. I am the Music, Arts and Culture Editor for The National Student. I am the Membership and Communications Officer for the Student Publication Association, I write about music for 7BitArcade, and contribute regularly to The Culture Trip. I have a passion for live music and this is where I began in student journalism. Reviewing a gig or festival is still where my heart lies four years on. I will be starting at MTV as a News Intern in June 2015. One thing you should know about me is that I have an unhealthy obsession with Kevin Spacey.

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