Live Music + Gig Reviews

Fanfarlo @ ULU, London

12 February 2010

There’s something about the sound at ULU that lends a hand to all things loud, but its limitations can threaten to swamp bands of a more varied nature. Such a band is Fanfarlo, who gave a brilliant set – but perhaps in the wrong venue.

Their much respected LP Reservoir was one of 2009’s most immediately likeable releases but one which seemed to build in time rather than being thrust upon us from the flash-in-the-pan school of success.
Such slow burning respect and widespread approval means that Fanfarlo’s live gigs have a lot to live up to. Thankfully this gig was a tight, highly professional display.

Reservoir’s songs translate well to the live arena, and the band revealed hidden depths to such tracks as I’m A Pilot. This particular set opener sounded like the perfect rallying call for the evening’s assembled fans. The rest of the set was predominantly album material, peppered with a few re-workings of old songs and rounded off with an unapologetic Fleetwood Mac track in the encore. The highlights were their best-known tracks, the anthem The Walls Are Coming Down and upbeat closer Harold T Wilkins.

Their lack of a larger repertoire is perfectly understandable, and Fanfarlo in the future will surely be able to produce a more surprising set. In the meantime, this was solid dependable stuff which didn’t disappoint, even if the acoustics at ULU made it a bit harder to truly revel in all their multi-instrumental glory.

Support was provided by the fresh-faced enthusiasm of New York’s Freelance Whales. Despite being jet-lagged they looked really pleased to be playing their first London gig and their sound complemented the headliners enough to make a promising impact, even if they too were hamstrung by the venue’s shortcomings. Aberystwyth’s Race Horses also grabbed the crowd’s attention by rocking out with some poppy belters which sounded like Super Furry Animals transported to the late 1960s.

The line-up of three talented bands certainly provided the audience with value for money and the Friday night crowd enjoyed the evening. Fanfarlo are clearly destined for bigger things – and venues better suited to them.

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More on Fanfarlo
Fanfarlo – Let’s Go Extinct
Fanfarlo – Rooms Filled With Light
Fanfarlo @ ULU, London
Fanfarlo – Reservoir