HK gives blazing reception to Friendly Fires

HK gives blazing reception to Friendly Fires

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Three-piece English band Friendly Fires play in Hong Kong for the first time.
Three-piece English band Friendly Fires play in Hong Kong for the first time.
Photos: Warner Music
Diehard fans crowded the stage early on at Tuesday's Friendly Fires concert in Kitec. The opening act, Gypsy & The Cat, an Australian pop duo, had their own collection of avid fans who flew in from Thailand. Best received was their hit Gilgamesh. But after their fourth song, the crowd grew a little restless, impatient for the headliners.

The foot-drumming began, fittingly reminiscent of a dragon dance, growing louder and louder until finally Fires took the stage.

"It's my first - our first - time in China," announced lead singer Ed Macfarlane, who injected the crowds with his pulsating energy from the get-go, dancing and moving on stage as if his whole life existed for this performance alone. Strobe lights and stimulating patterns covered the walls, in time with the electronic, thrusting tones of the band: it was like being invited into their galaxy.

As they played a heartfelt and eclectic mix of tracks from both their albums - kicking off with Blue Cassette, from their second record - the floor quaked with the fans' energy. There was the usual bunch with iPhones held high, recording the action on stage. Others waved their hands in the air or danced to their disco-esque grooves.

Friendly Fires showed the same passion and diversity as the fans that live for their music. Out came the saxophone, the trumpet, and a maraca, all adding to their relentless, high-tempo tunes. Paris, a much-loved song, created a stir that may well have reached the European city itself.

By far the highlight was Macfarlane's interaction with his audience. While the acoustics in the hall may have taken the sharp edge off the inventive, vigorous electro-indie beats, Macfarlane more than made up for it: he was like a monkey on a sugar high - he bounded around, shifting from the stage, to the filming platforms and, best of all, into the heart of the crowd itself, dancing with his fans as though it was his first time on a dance floor.

After a frenetic, laser-beamed encore - testament to the devotion of Friendly Fires to its fans - the crowd still wanted more. Sadly the band faded quietly into the fog. But their music is fixed in our minds.

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