Concert Review: the xx, Friendly Fires, Phoenix, December 2


While we were at The XX / Friendly Fires show last night I found myself pondering this question the entire time the xx were on stage: What the hell was I doing when I was 20 years old? If memory serves correctly, I would’ve been getting blitzed every Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday night, and trying not to fail my Greek and Roman Classics 101 course. I also went to a lot of formal dances with my boyfriend at RMC, but lord knows I wasn’t penning albums of the year or putting out the most wicked basslines heard since David Lynch scored Wild at Heart.

OK…to be fair here…If you were to ask me if the xx put on an energetic show last night the answer would be a resounding NO. The trio looked as if they’d been visited by some energy-sapping vampires the night before and the drama of having a member drop out due to exhaustion might make that theory more fact than fiction. I’d say the only limbs that moved onstage was during their last song…sort of an extended ‘Infinity’ when vocalist/bassist Jamie Smith started banging the bejesus out of a pair of cymbals to end off on. Romy Croft wins the mannequin-performer prize for moving only her fingers while strumming the guitar, though. You might think this was a shitty disappointment for us seeing as their debut album is near the top of our picks for 2009 but there was one thing that redeemed them…the music. This is an amazing album with some amazing guitar / bass work and it is something else to hear something of this caliber, live. The vocals were right on save for some wavering from Romy during Shelter. But shit, they’re 20! This is their first North American tour and comparing them to someone like say, Passion Pit, they at least delivered the goods of sounding on key even if they completely lacked showmanship.

Showmanship is what the Friendly Fires are for anyway. If there’s one thing you can count on, it’s that these guys are consistently entertaining, and that lead singer Ed MacFarlane’s hips are consistently limber. I thought the vocals were a little off because of his gyrating jimmy arm-movements but his enthusiasm sure as hell was infectious. Their handsome bearded guitarist also got into the act, jumping on a speaker trying to drum up clapping and such..and you know what? It worked. It always does. You can’t go to see these guys and NOT holler. They also went through the effort of mixing up their live act with some saxophone accompaniment..when they were at Lee’s Palace in the spring it was more of a conga-ish feeling. Also, they played Kiss of Life, which what Ricky was waiting for.

Since these guys have about an album a piece I’m not going to bother going through their setlists (but post them here if you have them). One thing I would like to say though, is that if you’re going to pay to go to a show and bother to stand close to the stage…STOP FUCKING TALKING. For the love of god, stand near the back if all you want to do is dis the opener. No one wants to hear it and at risk of sounding like a school marm, it’s just plain disrespectful.

That is all.

Posted on by Allison in Concerts, Everything

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