Friendly Fires: A Tale of Two Paradises

The music business is always brimming with contradiction.  A person who is quiet and unassuming off-stage can turn into a rock god on stage. I guess you could say that’s the magic of showbiz. Friendly Fires are part of that contradiction. Hailing from a small town outside of London, this trio may seem like just another hipster indie outfit, but look past their button downs and loafers and you will find a band with true heart and soul. Their second album, ‘Pala,’ named after the island in Aldous Huxley’s novel ‘Island’  is 44 minutes of pure joy. Their music is lush and danceable—with lyrics like “One day, we’re going to live in Paris, I promise” Friendly Fires turns electro-indie-funk-pop into music for the escapist in all of us.

Friendly Fires. | Photo by Briana Seftel

Playing to a packed crowd at the Paradise on Thursday,  Friendly Fires gave the perfect dose of high-octane energy needed on a frigid night. While not a well-known band in the United States, Friendly Fires has made it big in the UK and Europe, playing to huge venues. Hip-hop newcomer Theophilus London was supposed to be the opening act but got sick at the last minute, so Friendly Fires drummer/DJ Jack Savidge gave an impromptu dj set on stage. His set was an intriguing mix of never-heard-of-tunes featuring heavy bass lines and drums. Clearly Jack has no desire to play the big club hits– he spins according to his own tastes. A dose of humor was even thrown into his set, as some songs literally did the talking, asking the crowd “How you doing tonight?” From the response, pretty darn well.

After Jack’s modest departure and then a quick set up, the show was in full force. Within the first five minutes singer/dance extraordinaire Ed Macfarlane was dripping with sweat. They started off by playing “Lovesick” from their self-titled release and from then on a mix of old and new material. It didn’t seem like the crowd had a preference of album—they went wild for every song. Ed is one of the most dynamic front men I’ve ever seen- they way he moves his hips is at once insane and amazing. I’m sure there exist numerous fan sites dedicated to Ed’s dance moves. Macfarlane jumped into the crowd multiple times throughout the set, creating a frenzy of excitement and really connecting with the fans. Adding to the energy was guitarist Edd Gibson and drummer Jack. Their layered songs aren’t just guitars and drummers either—horns and cowbells are definitely a signature Friendly Fires sound.

Sweat: proof of a good show. | Photo By Briana Seftel

As with any good band, the audience doesn’t want the concert to sound exactly like the album. Friendly Fires displayed incredible energy and passion while filling the cold and bleak streets with sunshine.  Don’t judge this band for their looks—beneath the English-ness are bold tunes that are downright groovy .

Songs to check out: “Live Those Days Tonight” “Kiss of Life” “Jump in the Pool”


Briana Seftel

Briana Seftel (COM '14) is an aspiring journalist with an appetite for adventure. When not writing for the Quad, she enjoys exploring the great city of Boston.

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