Fred - The Half Moon, London
The Half Moon, London
Friday 18th May
Tonight we find ourselves in the plush-surroundings of ‘The Half Moon’ in Putney, just a stone’s throw from the great and dirty River Thames, eagerly anticipating the moment when Ireland’s most innocuously named band - Fred - will take the stage.
With critically-acclaimed fourth album Leaving My Empire having received its Canadian release in March via label ‘Sparks Music’ - home to a rather eclectic roster of acts - and with a string of Canadian radio and TV performances now firmly under their belt, it would appear that Cork’s favourite purveyors of guitar-laden power pop might finally be receiving the attention their music deserves.
The story goes that in their endeavours to get to The Big Smoke today, the band had to catch a ferry at 5am, a rather ungodly hour to be expected to go anywhere. But as the boys open their set under the bright lights there are certainly no signs of fatigue to be seen. They start with two tracks from the last album, ‘The Life Behind’ and following this, album-opener ‘If Not Now When’. The sound that characterizes the newer material is darker, more expansive, and certainly that bit more adventurous than what we might have heard on earlier albums such as ‘Go God Go’ or ‘Making Music So You Don’t Have To’, but that knack for writing infectious melodies that get lodged firmly in your head remains as strong as ever.
The band are joined on stage by guest keyboard/synth player Luke Slott, replacing Carolyn Goodwin, and some might remember him from his residency at Bewley’s Theatre or his piano recitals on the streets of Dublin. Tonight, in addition to his playing, his voice complements the vocal harmonies and arrangements that are such a signature of the music that Fred make.
With the room buzzing, the crowd beginning to move, and the band really getting into their stride, it was only a matter of time before someone started dancing, and a few enthusiastic individuals at the front are more than happy to lead by example as they throw some interesting shapes. It’s all great fun until one over-eager gentleman attempts what we can only assume was intended to be the splits - needless to say, it doesn’t quite come off! He collapses in a heap, hurting his knee rather badly in the process. Thankfully, a member of the staff is quickly on hand to help him hobble off, and these unfortunate events don’t detract from what’s happening on stage.
Fred finish up their set with ‘Fear’, encouraging the crowd in their efforts to sing-along. It sounds fantastic. In general, the sound tonight has been great, and at the end, the band give their technician a well-deserved thank you.
Everyone knows what is going to happen next, and though the band barely leave the stage the crowd play along and keep calling out for more, regardless. Even the man who hurt his leg has returned! It’s clear that the boys have really appreciated the warm reception they’ve received tonight, and Joe O’Leary thanks the crowd for their support before launching into the encore. They bring the proceedings to a close with a rousing rendition of ‘Running’, the track sounding even better than on record.
In short, Fred delivered a performance to be proud of.