Casual observers of the band Fred's House cannot fail to be astonished at the sheer drive and energy they put into their performances. The gig at The Portland Arms in Cambridge on Friday 16th of June was no different. A twenty-one song set on a hot and sweaty night in a jam packed, standing room only venue is no mean feat. These are no two minute songs either and included a mix of originals and covers of extended duration to the delight of those present. From the first few bars of the opening number we knew this was going to be special, but what Fred's House gig isn't special?
A few of the old favourites were there, like "Shut Up And Dance", "I'm not Saying", "Fine Life", and of course their showcase number "Beautiful You" This is a song which Victoria says they will continue to play until someone tells them to stop. I see no evidence of that coming to pass based on this performance. Other songs that the regular housemates will recognise are "Marathon Man", "Earthquake" and "Ghost Town". Sadly missing on this occasion was "Bluebird" and another number that was introduced as a new song last year with which I was much taken, "It's A Car." They did however include the song they wrote about Lachlan Golder, "California For A Girl" and he now has the task of playing the lead in a song about himself - awkward, but in a fun way.
The hit of the evening was Fleetwood Mac's "The Chain" this was a fabulous performance of the song part of which has been used for years to introduce Formula 1 Motor racing on TV. Played in it's entirety, this is a long number and the reaction of the audience was ecstatic. The whole set introduced mainly by Victoria was threaded through with humour. Fred's House is a Cambridge band although they play all over the country now. Although I think the group may have been surprised to hear just how far some people had come to attend this event, the mainly Cambridge crowd gave them a justifiable welcome home and in doing so, made Victoria a little tearful at one point. There no doubt is a great deal of affection between the band and their fans. This is a function of their availability. After the gig they mixed in with the crowd, even though exhausted.
This was the first time I had seen the band since the return of the lead guitar player extraordinaire Lachlan Golder. I was sad to see Alister Bunclark leave the band as I think his keyboard playing was at the very heart of the band. They are a little diminished without him. That said, This concert was not only well attended, it was fantastically well received. The weather, the atmosphere and the music means this night was memorable for all the right reasons. You should try to catch them when they are in your area.
Supporting Fred's House was a young man who professes to have only been playing the guitar for two years. If this is the case, then he must have other musical talents as he only sings and plays his own material. Nine songs in his set all of which stood up to scrutiny. One of which was very atmospheric, especially on such a hot night, "Talking To The Sky" which included the lyric: "Thunder has spoken, his lightning was bright" other songs of note were "Francis" and "It Was My Idea". This young man who has been featured on BBC Introducing, is from St Ives just up the road from Cambridge and should find himself in demand if his standard continues to grow.
Also co-incidentally from St Ives was the show opener, Ffion Rebecca. I have to declare an interest here. I have seen this sixteen year old, who writes much of her own material many times. So this performance would contain no surprises then right? WRONG! Singing in front of her own band for the first time, I have never seen or heard her perform better. After a slightly nervous start, Ffion was into her stride by halfway through the first song. The band of Ryan on lead, Lewis on bass and Tom on drums gave her all the support she could have dreamt of and as the set started, she rose to the challenge and went for it big time. She enjoyed it and it showed. What a super performance. It must be intimidating at sixteen years of age to stand up in a venue like The Portland and produce the goods. For Ffion, this was triumph. This was shown to be the case when after the show, she did a vigorous trade in sales of her recently issued EP which made it to #2 in the iTunes Blues download chart.
There are only so many hours in a day and only so many gigs we can get to. We'd really like to expand our national coverage of the live scene as it remains the life blood of music.
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