The queue to get into one of Camden’s best venues, Dingwalls, stretches around the corner from the off – the first sign that the acts on show tonight have struck a chord with London’s youth. The second indication of the kind of show this is going to be, comes when you spot the disco ball spinning and glittering above the main audience section. All three acts tonight are here to make you dance, and any similarities to 70s and 80s synth-pop are most definitely intended. New bands these days seem to go one of two ways: either they strive as hard as they can to appear cool, often to compelling effect, or they try as hard as they can to be fun. Tonight is most definitely about the latter.
Lisbon are the first act to take to the stage – the venue is remarkably full for the early stage time, with people continuing to stream in throughout their set. The tropical indie-pop is rhythmically addictive, and gets the crowd moving early doors. Crowd pleasers ‘Native’, ‘Rio’ and the Game of Thrones inspired ‘Khaleesi’ get people singing as well as shifting, whilst the metronomic band themselves throw some pretty convincing shapes.
A superbly strong opening act, the North Easterners set the tone for the whole show with their confidently delivered dance-rock tunes. Whilst each member of the group are on point with their own parts, I’d be really interested to see how having a live keyboardist could help their live show as performing to a backing track no doubt helps with the tightness, but an extra live member could help make the set feel a touch more organic and real.
Next up are Dundee based group Model Aeroplanes, who have the indie-heart-throb look locked down. What follows is another accomplished half-hour set that keeps the enthusiastic crowd moving, and singing in the case of a few super-fans down the front. Model Aeroplanes maintain a real connection with the crowd throughout. Frontman Rory Fleming-Stewart pulls out the usual ‘how’re you doing? You can do better than that!’ combo, and also tries to source an invitation to any after parties going on , all stage chat delivered in a thick Scottish accent of course. This prompts the lead guitarist Grant Irvine to playfully translate what he’s saying for all of our English ears.
Model Aeroplanes polished and confident performance does a lot to show why they have just signed to Island Records, and the future is no doubt bright for these lads from north of the boarder.
Finally, and to an enormous roar from the 400 strong crowd headliners Fickle Friends stroll out to start their set. From the off the audience are on side, lending a party-vibe to proceedings. Front-woman Natassja Shiner is an affable and likeable stage presence, she, and the whole band it seems, are genuinely surprised at how many people have come to see them tonight, which comes across as pleasantly modest and gives them an air of a ‘band of the people’. However, this is not to say that they lack confidence, as whenever the music is in full flow the pounding rhythms, washy synths and staccato guitar lines take control of the room and provide a great foundation for Natassja’s vocals to flourish and prompt a wild reaction from the crowd.
The set is balanced between old fan favourites and a selection of new stuff that more than holds its own, a great sign for the future development of the band. Naturally breakthrough single ‘Swim’ gets a great ovation and causes the loudest sing-along of the night, but set highlight has to be the encore performance of most recent single ‘Say No More’. During this the entire front level of punters are pogoing in unison, before being invited on stage to see in the glorious ending of the set, complete with confetti cannons and all.
This last touch, the stage invasion, is indicative of the communal spirit Fickle Friends foster. For this reason, it is not hard to imagine them victoriously performing on big festival or arena stages. Perhaps an added veneer of performance-arrogance could help them at this stage, but for now it is refreshing seeing a group with such modest intentions, provoke such a strong reaction from an adoring mass of fans.