Friendly Fires’ club rave at Oval Space was a masterclass in the live experience

If you didn’t leave the venue drenched in sweat, beer, and with hardly a voice left, you did it wrong.


Few frontmen throw themselves into their performances as much as Friendly Fires’ endlessly energetic Ed Macfarlane. Leading the four-piece band, who were joined by a saxophonist, trumpet player and bongo drummer – they ran through 60 minutes of fan favourites.

Their headline show at Oval Space was a greatest hits performance full of anthemic throwbacks and new, festival-ready bangers. Here’s why it was such a success…

Ed Macfarlane is a brilliant frontman

Constantly drenched in sweat, Ed poured himself into every song as the room full of lifelong fans screamed the lyrics of indie-dance cuts like ‘Skeleton Boy’ and ‘Live Those Day’s Tonight’. There was barely a moment for Ed, who sang into two microphones at once while orchestrating the crowd effortlessly, to catch his breath after giving everything he had. Put simply, he’s one of the best.

They performed all the hits

‘Jump In The Pool’, ‘Kiss of Life’, ‘Paris’… the setlist was a dream for fans and each hit sounded just as good as when they were released nearly ten years ago. Performing tracks from their self-titled 2008-released debut album and 2011’s pop-tinged ‘Pala’, their 60-minute strobe-fuelled show was a carnivalesque workout.

The new songs are great, too

The Disclosure-produced ‘Heaven Let Me In’, one of many highlights of the night, made it clear that the Hertfordshire quartet have plenty of material left in them. ‘Love Like Waves’, later, was received like one of the band’s classics by the audience; arms outstretched and with tops swinging in the air, it’s easy to think of Friendly Fires becoming festival headliners next year.

It felt like they’d never been away

Unifying an audience of mostly twenty-somethings reliving their teenage years, it felt like they’d never been on hiatus. There was no time for breaks between songs, either; instead they delivered the cuts rapid-fire and with plenty of expressive dance moves.

Their live show is a proper rave workout

A lot of bands and artists could learn something from Friendly Fires’ no-frills all-the-hits setlist. There was never a dull moment and, thanks to the ravey atmosphere throughout, it was a reminder of what live gigs are meant to be and how you’re meant to feel afterwards. If you didn’t leave the venue drenched in sweat, beer, and with hardly a voice left, you did it wrong.

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