On Thursday, October 26, the 02 Forum Kentish Town saw incredible five piece Fickle Friends headline their biggest London show yet. Support act Off Bloom boosted the crowd perfectly beforehand, with their electro-pop bangers and quirky stage presence. A myriad of people had filled the venue, patiently waiting for the tropical vibes to begin.
With the stage in blackout, the introductory music began to boom through the speakers, a morphed mashup of a number of tracks “You’ve Got A Friend In Me” being one of them. The stage then erupted into their first track “Hello Hello“, a highly fitting opener of course.
This was combined with a theatrical staging, blue LED style lighting surrounding their EP cover as the backdrop. The guitar breakdown saw the whole crowd arms above their head clapping in unison, the heart-pounding energy rippling through the venue from the start.
Dry ice rose from the back of stage on transition into the next track “Brooklyn“. The stage was electric, the guitarist, Chris driving the song forward with a funky hook, Natassja’s unique vocals filling the venue. She performed effortlessly and was easy-going, with her approach towards their fans, shouting ‘You good?’ to be responded with an eruption of cheers. Their performance levels were roof-lifting from the get-go as passion poured from all five of them.
A red glow amplified the stage on introduction of their next track Sugar, Natassja explaining “this is about how love can be bittersweet“. If the roof of O2 Forum could have lifted off into a warm Caribbean evening rather than the cold London air, it would have been a fitting track for a beach party paradise.
“We are fully aware we owe you an album, and it’s out next year” Natassja announced before introducing “Wake Me Up” taken straight from their debut, it’s with no doubt they have really honed their sound. They scattered the set with new and old tunes, with “Paris” being one from their 2015 release.
Natassja’s smooth and silky vocals flowed through the venue, the O2 Forum Kentish Town the perfect choice for their largest headline yet. Violet lighting flooded the stage as a jungle theme introduction to the vibrant “Cry Baby” began, the production creating a silhouette around each of them. During the breakdown Natassja, shaker in hand, bounded onto drummer Will’s platform, his performance so fluid and animated.
They really had stepped it up from their studio releases, the live set-up brought their sound to a new creative level with all five of them having their chance to shine musically, each of them with their own identity. It was a real obvious on and off stage friendship and chemistry.
Track fillers just don’t seem to be on any of Fickle Friend’s agenda, with each of their songs a fundamentally catchy pop track, and this can be said for next track “Vanilla” which had the crowd unsurprisingly grooving. The lighting surrounding the back board began to flicker, disco style like an old school dance mat in the arcades.
We also had tracks “Say No More” and “Velvet“. This had a 1975 style guitar opening with synth reverb rippling into every inch of the room, an elegant and single spotlight on Natassja whose breathy vocals cascaded among the crowd.
Holding herself with absolute class and minimal talking in between songs, it really was about performing rather than ego. Her relatability factor is obvious introducing their newest release “Hard To Be Myself” as a story of stepping into a social situation and wishing “I could feel like someone else for an hour”.
Although the song portrays a message of insecurities the 80’s inspired, party vibes left the crowd feeling extremely carefree, all arms in the air and waving around like no tomorrow.
Now it wouldn’t be a closing night of the tour without an encore and the anticipation of two tracks. “Swim” had the crowd engaged from front to back left to right, dividing the crowd for a call and response, the crowd jumping in unison. This did not falter into “Glue” and as the finale track, audience members were climbing up on each other’s shoulders a surge of celebration as cannons erupted to create a rainfall of gold glitter and eruption of excited cheers gushing from the audience.
Amass the friendliest atmosphere and infectious energy, it left me craving the festival season. The only criticism I have is to me and the fact I didn’t get a few bevies down me and push myself (politely) into the mix of it all. A magnificently brand reflective and smartly executed production from the staging to lights, as well as killer musicians and sensationally hooky indie-pop tunes, Fickle Friends have the ability to smash stadium heights as their journey unfolds.
Natassja is a fresh female frontwoman, and will most certainly follow in the successful footsteps of roles models Hayley Williams of Paramore and Florence Welch of Florence and the Machine, with her calm character and likability. You’ll see me next festival season, beer in both hands in the mix of a Fickle Friends set, lost somewhere in the crowd but having a damn good time.
Words by Jodie Brunning