Fickle Friends - Heaven, London 01/12/2016

Fickle Friends – Heaven, London 01/12/2016

Towards the end of Fickle Friends‘ triumphant London show, a young woman, appears above the swaying crowd, perched preciously on a friend’s shoulders, waving an umbrella.

She’s going to need it. This generation – and the fan base of the Brighton five piece is definitely in the 18-25 bracket – is about to have a heap of post-Brexit, Trump era crap heaped upon its head. With war, poverty and rapidly disappearing career opportunities all they have to look forward to, to quote Morrissey, they’re going to need someone on their side.

And here they are. Fickle Friends are the kind of protective elder siblings or trendy cousins this generation needs. Their unashamed pop sound and unthreatening asexual image is, on the surface, straight forward and hopelessly optimistic, but scratch the surface and there’s a sympathetic melancholy in evidence.

At least their old-fashioned success story – they toured non-stop for two years, including more than 50 festivals, before picking up a major deal with Polydor – is a reason to be cheerful. As is the very full and utterly supportive audience in attendance at Heaven tonight. “We gave our team so much shit for booking this gig,” confesses Natassja Shiner (vocals, keyboard) to the crowd, but the gamble has clearly paid off.

Opening with the funk-infused ‘Cry Baby’, the band dash through a set that only grazes an hour after the one set encore, showcasing a sound that has one foot in the bewitching earworms of Fleetwood Mac (via Haim, no doubt) and another in the euphoria of Daft Punk‘s more song-based moments. Chris Hall’s guitar playing brings Orange Juice to mind, while the four-to-the-floor feel, driven by bassist Harry Herrington and drummer Sam Morris, has echoes of those other Fleetwood Mac fans Vampire Weekend. Shiner’s voice is the central feature, of course, with a nod to Kate Bush‘s confident vulnerability, but all in all it goes to make for a very familiar, comforting sound that doesn’t end up owing too much to any single source.

Their songwriting is the main thing they have going for them, though. Current single ‘Brooklyn’, with which they close their set, has a chorus (“you are someone else”) so catchy that most bands would donate a limb or two to have in their arsenal. ‘Swim’, which they encore with, the track that started their steady but unstoppable rise, sounds almost as vital, and the two unheard songs that they play from their recent debut LP recording sessions in LA indicate that they aren’t about to stop growing and developing any time soon.

They’re greeted throughout by the kind of devoted enthusiasm more usually reserved for a festival headliner than a new band yet to release their first long player. But at no point does it feel undeserved. Fickle Friends? This lot are clearly going to be sticking around.


God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.