Thursday, 19 May 2016

Brand New Friend, The Late Twos, Fox Colony (Belfast, McHughs, May 18th 2016)

Brand New Friend launched their debut EP 'American Wives', which incidentally is a must-buy, in some style at McHughs. The night as a whole was  full to the brim with energy and genuine enthusiasm for songcraft, and the headliners were ably supported by The Late Twos and, before them, Fox Colony.

Fox Colony are in fact fronted by the Brand New Friend bassist, Darren Hill, and theirs is a rather more melancholic sound, while still retaining infectious melodies aplenty. The Weekend was an early highlight of their set with the chant-able "We are, we are so fragile" contributing to a knockout chorus. Ghosts of Blink 182 haunt the likes of 'Patterns' (good thing) and early Biffy Clyro is another pleasing echo in the eerie 'Born In Blue.' 'Disappear' rounded Fox Colony's portion of the evening off with what started off moving the feet and then progressed into some Guitar Hero riffing towards the end. Great job all round!

The Late Twos have had some success already, earning play on Steve Lamacq's Radio One show amongst others, and there was an assurance to their set that suggested more plaudits could be on the way. 'Sierra Leone' was released as a single earlier this year and there was a fantastic rendition on show here. I could hear traces of Suede in its mid-tempo jangle. Their self-titled single and Never Mind were also highlights. Anyone from Bangor should also check out the video for Never Mind, they'll see some familiar sights!

To the main event, and Brand New Friend tore through their set with a sound recalling Ash and Los Campesinos. With vocals shared between siblings Taylor and Lauren Johnson, the harmonies and melodies are a perfect counterpoint to what are often bittersweet love songs, but these songs draw overwhelmingly from the sweet end of that spectrum, to their abundant benefit!

'American Wives' was their self-confessed "reason they are here" and the title track of the EP is less than two minutes of pop-rock gold. Equally infectious on record as on the stage, this had all the buzz of the Buzzcocks.

'Settle Down' was another highlight with the colourful keyboards hooking you in right away. 'Your Friends Hate Me' had a breakneck refrain of "I go out while you stay home again" and was definitely a popular choice amongst the small but passionate crowd.

The closing duo of songs was what really capped the night off for the band. They invited local icon Gerry Norman on stage and he joined them before they started off 'I Was An Astronaut', another standout from the EP. 'I Love You Goodbye' brought things to a close with aplomb, and you should expect to see Brand New Friend in bigger venues before long.

Buy their EP 'American Wives' here. I recommend!

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