Sadly, Cavern was unable to rise anew from the ashes before this gig, so Phoenix stepped in as the replacement. Super Hans, of Peep Show legend, was in the main room; Fickle Friends were consigned to the upstairs room. Upstairs in Phoenix has a distinct school sports hall vibe, and brings back unwanted Year 6 disco nostalgia.
Before the main act came on, we were treated to the one-man-and-an-iPad experience of Huntar. Huntar, a supremely confident man with some supremely dubious dance moves, told us that he usually plays with a band. He desperately needed one. Perhaps the ‘dancing’ was a sort of summoning ritual to try and make them appear out of the ether. The style of music was, ‘chart pop’. ‘Anyway’, one of his more successful tracks with a Unit 1-friendly synth hook, was simultaneously catchy and forgettable (perhaps a good way to describe his set). The redeeming feature was that his vocals were excellent, but some of the song writing is wanting.
at their best when the song is more high-energy
Fickle Friends present as a five piece, with guitar licks and solos thrown in amongst the synth. Natassja Shiner, the lead vocalist, was impressively energetic from the get go and chatty between songs. ‘Cry Baby’ kicked things off, with its distinctive synth hook. The room was maybe just over half-full, but the band did a great job of upping the energy.
A few songs, such as ‘Velvet’, are a little less upbeat than the others. They were performed well, but you get the feeling that Fickle Friends are at their best when the song is more high-energy. The set was relatively short as the band are fairly new and are yet to release a debut album, having only gained a record deal at the start of last year. We were treated to a few songs yet to be released, which were good but not memorable as being much different from anything else. Other stand out numbers were ‘Could Be Wrong’, and ‘Say No More’, which deliver the catchy and upbeat qualities that make Fickle Friends special. ‘Could Be Wrong’, not unlike many of their songs, gives off a distinct 1975 feel (don’t let that put you off). However, Shiner’s stunning live vocals were better live than, for example, Matt Healy’s.
As the progressed the energy started to build. The band started to move about more and got the crowd jumping. There was an intoxicating, carefree feeling that seeped into the audience, making the night particularly enjoyable. All five of them looked like they were having a great time, and this transferred to everyone in the room.
Fickle Friends aren’t exactly ground-breaking or experimental. What they are is fun. Their songs are catchy, in a positive, infectious way. They delivered a great time, and a masterclass in lifting a crowd.