Fickle Friends – 25th October 2018 – Northumbria Institute
By Victoria Wai (Victoria Wai)
We were spoilt with supports on this night with local seven-piece outfit Picnic bringing the party vibes to the pretty full Northumbria Institute. There were a few in attendance that were already familiar with this band and those that weren’t were leaving as new fans. From the jazzier vibe to the ‘indie meets dirty pop’ vibes Leeds based band Marsicans slotted in the middle. Their energy was infectious and the crowd fed on it. We had half an hour between each act which on a positive note meant no one had to worry about missing a moment by being in queues and that definitely showed by the time headliners Fickle Friends were due on stage as it was a tight squeeze milling around the first six ‘rows,’ of this standing room only gig.
The excitement was building and the stage looked like a garden centre which looked great surrounding the bands equipment. Though as the stage is quite big in this venue when Fickle Friends came on it felt that more plants were needed or at least the band could have been brought a metre or so forward as there seemed to be some distance from the crowd. However, that did not take away from the enthusiasm of the fans and that of lead woman Natti Shiner, who deserves a lot of credit as the date before had to be cancelled due to her having come down with a virus.
With this in mind, she tells the crowd early that they need to get behind her and they scream back their support as we lead into Brooklyn after a stomper of a start with Bite and Wake Me Up. You could feel the love from the crowd and you could see and feel that the band were not going to let them down. With their seemingly ‘happy indie pop’ sound, Fickle Friends lyrics run quite deep and before they kick off Hard To Be Myself, Natti tells us “don’t be afraid to talk about mental health because idiots online say it’s fashionable…it’s not fashionable but its because awareness is spreading.” And the message is strong especially when you see the audience is mainly of the teen to thirties age. The song itself is a bit like social anxiety in itself and to see it performed live is a great feeling to witness as the whole crowd sing in unison, “so just tonight, what the fuck.” And what a way to release those feelings inside for those few moments in an upbeat song. This is the joy of Fickle Friends, they make the negative feel positive in their deliverance and the audience feel it more so live. Later a guy screams out, Say No More, and Natti and the band oblige with this song of escapism. It is such a feel-good moment (as is the whole night to be fair).
The whole room sing back in chorus to You Are Not Alone and Natti comes down to the barriers to get closer to the crowd. Fickle Friends are an infectious group of people that those at the barriers want to take that home with them as they reach out to her. And as Natti stated earlier in the night, she is normally ‘more professional’ and if you did not know she was recovering from that virus, she and her friends Sam, Harry, Chris and Wilson could not have been more professional if they tried, as they covered every inch of that big stage delivering ‘banger after banger,’ and the audience that came felt every second of it.
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