Gig Review: Fickle Friends at Riverside

Rory Ellis reviews Fickle Friends at Riverside.

Rory Ellis
23rd October 2017

It’s nine o’clock in Riverside and radio static punctures the hubbub of the crowd. A mix of ring tones and known advertisements pre-empt the start of what promises to be an exciting set, if the support band are anything to go by.

As the lights hit the disco ball above the stage, the atmosphere was altered and a welcomed focus was placed on Shiner’s vocals

'Hello Hello' was first up and the crowd were interested. The sweet sounding 80s-style synth filled the venue and the energy radiating from the five-piece band made for a gratifying start. It was disappointing, at times, to hear vocalist, Shiner’s voice submerged in the density of music. Tracks like ‘Brooklyn’ and ‘Sugar’ tended to swallow her voice, where the abundance of reverb and synth-heavy rhythm remained dominant. However, at other times the vocals were also a complete triumph. Most notably ‘Wake Me Up’, a song from the forthcoming album, was a vocal victory. As the lights hit the disco ball above the stage, the atmosphere was altered and a welcomed focus was placed on Shiner’s vocals. It was effective to strip away the aesthetics, if only for three or four minutes, before we were lead back into the busy sound of ‘Cry Baby’.

There is a lot to be said of Shiner’s stage presence. She had a way of interacting that made her as lovable as the band’s music. What she said wasn’t slick and necessarily cool, but it made the performance all the more endearing. Her crowd interactions were sometimes awkward, and the declaration that the audience to their last gig in Newcastle was 80% extended family made their performance very likeable. Her introduction to ‘Hard To Be Myself’ attained a sense of authenticity that made the track altogether more affecting. “This is about when you just feel a bit anxious and would kinda like to be someone else” she commented in a discomfited voice that rang true throughout the crowd. Equally her performance of ‘Cry Baby’ possessed a new meaning that it lacks in the radio edit. Lyrics like “So beat me/And do it again/ Love me after a day” suddenly made more sense as she viciously moved her shaker to the beat.

The smooth and easy aesthetic of their sound stayed in tact while gaining a touching sense of emotion

As the thump of their most popular song ‘Swim’ kick-started I feel I hadn’t got enough out of this rather fleeting set. However, the smooth and easy aesthetic of their sound stayed in tact while gaining a touching sense of emotion and meaning that made for a very enjoyable performance.

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