In the small, warm space of Le Poisson Rouge, late on a Wednesday night, an army of boldly dressed hipsters gathered. Mumbling sweet nothings and compliments on shoulder pads, these curious creatures were not after an apathetic display of their presence but thirsty for a full on dance party led by the immensely hip and fiery Friendly Fires
. This became obvious as soon as opening band (& Baeble favorites) The Phenomenal Hand Clap Band
took the stage in their eight piece, multi-instrumental choir soul-funk pop glory. The Phenomenal Hand Clap Band is notorious for their unique live shows, full of improvisation, sliding guitars and nonstop tambourines, synchronized swaying and an embrace of non ironic , heartfelt performance, and despite a few flaws in the soundsystem for their expansive, expressive songs, they delivered. The soulful, slithering melodies and instrumental, morphing soundscape became the perfect starter toward anticipating the Friendly Fires.
And anticipating is exactly what happened, for the next full hour (or even more). The excruciating wait in the already sweat infused, oven like crowded pit was hardly welcome to the restless audience, and it seemed impossible that setting up a few guitars and keyboards could drag on so much that the irritable crowd turned downright vicious for the show to start. It may or may not have had any effect on when the three Brits finally stepped on stage, but when they did (past midnight), and singer Ed Mac
apologized for the delay with the promise of making it up to the already enthusiastic and relief soaked crowd, the night took on a new edge.
Of strobe lights and dancing without end, to the Friendly Fires's signature hip swaying, rhythm sizzling disco electro dance pop songs. Ed's chemistry with the audience was undeniable and absolutely incredible, maintaining eye contact as he sang through passionate verses. His unabashed, vivid dancing drove the already converted crowd to new heights of frenzied, sweat soaked movement. But chanting along to every word of a heartfelt Friendly Fires song, this crowd did not care for maintaining meticulous styling of hair or clothes, only for a non-stop high energy dance party, until Le Poisson Rouge awoke with the disco finally flashing brillant lights and a reckless embrace of the music itself that few other than a sold-out NYC concert can ever accomplish. When the Friendly Fires finished the end of their set with classic hit "Paris," the conviction in the pumping fists and jumping feet of the entire audience, oblivious to the rest of the world, the heat, the plastered shirts to sweaty backs, the stunning colors was a marvel in itself.
So, worth the wait, the discomfort, the late start time? As I can hardly imagine anyone walking away from the show dissatisfied (even those in the very back danced like nothing else to the rigor in Friendly Fires's electro anthems), I'd give it a vote of absolutely. I think New York would agree. -Laura Yan
Friendly Fires on Tour
8/15 - Circo Voador (Popload Gig) - Rio De Janeiro
8/17 - Popload Gig - Sao Paulo
8/19 - La Tristienda - Buenos Aires
8/21 - Velvet - Mexico City
8/23 - Glasshouse Concert Hall - Pomona
8/24 - El Rey - Los Angeles
8/28 - Reading Festival - Reading
8/29 - Creamfields - Liverpool
8/30 - Leeds Festival - Leeds
9/3 - St Albans Arena - St Albans
9/11 - Bestival - Isle of Wight
10/22 - Philipshalle - Dusseldorf
10/23 - Pier 2 - Bremen
10/24 - Arena - Berlin
10/26 - Liederhalie-Beethovensaal - Stuttgart
10/27 - Zenith - Munich
10/28 - Jahrhunderthalle - Frankfurt
10/31 - Trebendo - Paris
11/13 - Warehouse Project - Manchester
* * * * * * * * * * * *
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