by Jess Sharpe
Photo credit: Ariel Fournier
I got pretty sweaty with Friendly Fires on Thursday night at Le National. I was in the thick of their sold-out show, dancing my heart out to their synth pop, electro-rock (with a hint of the tropics in the pina colada-spiked drums). Plaid-clad lead singer Ed Macfarlane lead the party with his hips, really – he’s he full package when it comes to dancing: gyrating to and fro, adding some enthusiastic jolting and a little shimmy here and there. Almost needless to say, the crowd had no problem getting into it.
When the Brit band took the stage to excited cheers they promptly opened with heart-thumping beat of “Lovesick.” As the chorus hit, the real live brass section they had brought with them flared up, and added certain authenticity to the rest of the show. Next up was “Jump in the Pool.” The drum-synth-sax bridge (yes, saxophone – I didn’t realize either) in that song makes me swoon when I listen to it on the album, and the live version definitely doesn’t disappoint. They mostly played from their self-titled album, adding the new single “Kiss of Life” to the mix. The audience was all over it, swaying to the combo of white and yellow lights that seemed to carry the echoing vocals out into the swarm of bodies.
By the time they got to “Photobooth” the crowd, drawing off the pulsing lights, bass and beats, was in full on dance party mode. “On Board” just cranked it up a notch as everyone waited for the build up of the almost whispered, “climbin’ on, climb on aboard, / givin’ it a little bit more,” repeated until the brass players burst through the tension and got everyone, including the band, real excited about it. The drummer even left his set to hit it up with a cowbell beside the guitarist, who slung his strings behind his back and joined in with the percussion effort. And all the while singer Macfarlane was riling up the crowd who at this point were really taking a few dance moves out of his book.
There wasn’t much chit-chat between songs from Macfarlane or the rest of the band – maybe a sign of the toll of nonstop US-Canada touring – so it felt like the show was done in no time at all. As an encore they played “Ex-Lover” : Macfarlane donned a bass for a while, then plunked on the synth as we in the audience soaked up the final minutes of sharing a damn good time with Friendly Fires.