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Friendly Fires

Friendly Fires at El Rey Theatre, Los Angeles, CA, August 25th, 2009

Aug 25, 2009 Friendly Fires Photography by Wendy Lynch Redfern Bookmark and Share

I don’t dance. I’m an arrhythmic white girl whose main goal—at most events—is to not put an eye out with my pen or notebook. Although, I’d be lying if I didn’t admit to getting my (very) awkward groove on at last night’s Friendly Fires show. For the record: no writing utensil related injuries were sustained.

Between the energy of youth and the professionalism of a young band that recently nabbed a Mercury Prize nomination, Friendly Fires puts on a high octane show. While the grooves were presented as cleanly live as in their titular debut full-length, the guitar was rawer, the vocals louder, the dancing…dancier. It is also interesting to note that the set included phenomenally more handclaps than show opener, The Phenomenal Handclap Band. Choice percussion on loan, perhaps?

Halfway though the all-too-brief set, vocalist Ed Macfarlane took a break from his bandleader duties to announce, “I’m losing my voice so I’ll apologize…but we’ll keep going.” before adding with a laugh, “That sounds like a threat!” I’d love to take poetic license and say that after that comment the party really begun—but that would be a lie. The trio (who were also backed by a two-piece horn section) came out ready to rock—and as a result not one song in their lean set felt half-hearted or lacked energy.

Somewhere between the strobing multi-colored lights and gyrating crowd I still managed to jot down deep insights. On Macfarlane’s Mick Jagger-like strut: “dude can get down!!!” Of drummer Jack Savidge’s clearly loved kit: “sparkly!” Parents spend so much time worrying about the affects of drugs and alcohol on their child. But what about dance rock’s affect on the writer?

Despite the high quality and consistency of performance (I’ll go out on a limb here and say they’re one of the best live bands out there), the night ended with two distinct highlights. The first was set closer, single, and clear audience favorite, “Paris.” Funkier than the romance-laden album version, the song was expanded to accommodate clattery percussion, including guitarist Edd Gibson banging on a box. Appreciative, the audience chimed in, sweetly joining the band in choral duties. However, it was encore “Ex-Lover” that easily took the prize for best song of the evening. Stretched to twice its original length, Macfarlane was given adequate time to instrument hop—from keyboard, to guitar, to drums, to air drums—all before the band triumphantly strolled off stage. Had they danced into Los Angeles night, it would have been to the surprise of none.

Set List

1. Lovesick
2. Jump in the Pool
3. Strobe
4. In the Hospital
5. White Diamonds
6. Skeleton Boy
7. Kiss of Life
8. Photobooth
9. On Board
10. Paris

11. Ex-Lover



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August 27th 2009

Agreed. This was a dope show. One of the better I’ve been to in ‘09. Check out their performance of “Jump In the Pool” from the show.

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January 8th 2010

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Green Car
April 21st 2010

Had a really good time. If there was a band playing here that I wanted to see, the venue would encourage me to get off my butt and buy some tix.

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October 20th 2010

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