After churning out the first bass notes of the aptly chosen opener ‘Hello Hello’, I already find myself ready to boogie. This is certainly a highly anticipated gig not only for myself but the whole of the sold-out upstairs room of the O2 Institute, having been teased with single after single over the last 3 years by Brighton quintet Fickle Friends.
To set the scene, after being greeted by a collage of well-known tunes clipped with the words ‘fickle’ and ‘friends’ (funnily enough), we are warmed with beating red strip lights and some decorative palm trees to match the band’s artwork theme, much to the crowd’s delight. The evening was soon in full swing, gliding through 2016’s ‘Brooklyn’ and recent EP ‘Glue’ dweller
‘Sugar’, which demonstrated the impressive bass tone and silky smooth synth as heard on the records. Vocalist Natassja Shiner and co then roll off two unreleased tracks ‘Wake Me Up’ and ‘Rotation’, which share the same 80’s injected layers of synth as the rest of the set; this promises even more good things from the debut record currently in production in Los Angeles under Mike Crossey (producer of albums for Arctic Monkeys and Foals to name a few).
We are then treated to some exchanges between the band: Bassist Harry Herrington leaves the stage to wipe his face on “something mysterious” [Shiner]. “A used nappy” suggests sampler and keyboardist Jack Wilson. It is after this we truly see the power of Shiner’s vocals, every note flawlessly soaring above the rest of the band, particularly on tunes such as oldie ‘Paris’. Having had nothing to complain about so far, as we reach the climax of the set we are met with the crowd favourites ‘Say No More’ and ‘Swim’ as well as new single ‘Hard To Be Myself’. Despite the warm uplift and ever-present bopping that come with these numbers, it was rather frustrating to not be able to fully hear the sleek solos from guitarist Chris Hall, although this cannot be attributed to the band but sound tech. Nevertheless, this was not able to dampen the atmosphere of the balloon-filled room, as the Friends round off a real spectacle of a set.
It is now easy to see why Polydor Records’ Fickle Friends are gliding their way into playlists around the country. We have seen them amongst the talent of BBC Introducing, storm festival after festival and even in a BBC Radio 1 Piano Session. As they close the set dreamily with the catchy raunchy EP title track ‘Glue’, we are left hooked on the sound of the deliciously sweet indie-pop of Fickle Friends after a triumphant return to Birmingham. I’ll say no more.