Review: Fickle Friends at Engine Rooms, Southampton

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Triumphant

An absolute triumph that perfectly balanced their fledgling hits with new material that heightened anticipation for their debut studio album and delivered an excellent evening of music.

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Writing your first gig review can be a daunting experience, but luckily Fickle Friends simplified the process after delivering a near-perfect performance at Engine Rooms on October 8th. The quintet are renowned for their indie pop, 80s-esque style, and arrived armed with a set list that struck the perfect balance between upbeat, powerful, striking and fun, dovetailing their greatest hits in ‘Hello Hello’ and ‘Glue’ at either end of a fantastic set that encompassed everything from fans’ favourites to new material expected on their first studio album, due for release in early 2018.

Their performance greatly benefited from the enigmatic, charming on-stage presence of lead vocalist Natassja Shiner, who in truth had the sell-out audience in the palm of her hand almost from the word ‘go’, taking the brief interludes between songs to engage with the crowd and acknowledge the fantastic support this fledgling band continues to receive. Her dancing perfectly encompassed the energy and emotion of each song, and the on-stage chemistry between her and band-mates Jack Wilson (keyboard, backing vocals), Jack Herrington (bass, backing vocals), Sam Morris (drums) and Chris Hall (guitar) was evident from the exit of the M3 a handful of miles away.

Not only was the balance in the set well-constructed, but the newer music proved an absolute triumph, including ‘Wake Me Up’, a powerful single that Shiner noted before singing was one of her favourites – by the time she had finished, it was incredibly difficult not to agree. By placing their most well-known songs at regular intervals across the set, Fickle Friends gave themselves a license to explore some of their other work – and as a semi-regular listener, I’ve since compulsively downloaded the entire set on Spotify, questioning myself bitterly as to why I hadn’t looked through their music with a fine-tooth comb earlier.

One criticism of musicians in the modern age is that a sense of identity is often lacking – even just a routine glance at the set of Fickle Friends quickly disproves this, with every detail from the palm trees to the positioning of each band member well-chosen, complemented by an excellent and varied lighting arrangement that perfectly matched each song. Even their honesty – admitting at one stage the encore was a few seconds delayed whilst drummer Morris nipped to the toilet – proved an absolute hit, marking them out as one of the most spirited acts on the circuit at present.

Supporting acts Jerry Williams and Calum Beattie both further enhanced the evening, warming the crowd up with a mixture of Williams’ upbeat, quirky style with Beattie’s more powerful style and truly delivering one of the strongest collective billings in the UK at the moment.

The industry seems pretty excited about Fickle Friends at the moment, and it’s clear to see why. The common saying is ‘nobody is perfect’ – but these guys ran it pretty close. An excellent gig, and a fantastic start to a tour that is only set to herald the release of a very successful and highly-anticipated debut studio album.

Check out their latest single ‘Glue’ below:

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Damian is a second-year History student, aspiring sports journalist and a lover of films and stand-up comedy.

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