Friendly Fires return to roots and play St Albans gig

FRIENDLY Fires played an intimate but raucous homecoming gig at The Horn in front of some 150 local fans on Tuesday night.

The three-piece St Albans group had been asked to play a gig in London to launch NME’s search for the best small venue in the country, but instead insisted on playing the city they grew up in and the venue where they developed as a band.

Tickets for the previously secret gig only went on sale at HMV in St Albans on Thursday last week and had sold out within hours.

And the band didn’t disappoint – they entertained the crowd with favourites from their highly acclaimed debut album including Jump in the Pool, Skeleton Boy, Paris and Kiss of Life, while also playing new material from their second album Pala which is released on May 16.

Both the old and new tracks went down a storm with the fans, who couldn’t get enough of the heavy electronic beats and lead singer Ed Macfarlane’s trademark wild dancing. The gig ended with all three of the band members crowd surfing through the Victoria Street venue.

Speaking to the Herts Advertiser following the performance, guitarist Edd Gibson said: “NME was doing a story about smaller venues and what they meant to bigger bands, and their importance in the scene. They suggested we played a gig in Camden somewhere but we said that we had grown up playing The Horn – this is the first venue we ever played and we still come back to St Albans all the time to record our music and it’s just down the road from us, so it would be silly pretending that we were ever part of a London scene that we weren’t.

“And this is an amazing, tiny venue. It’s just a tiny place but the sound system is incredible – it has been a grand night. There’s nowhere else close to St Albans doing it or in Hertfordshire at all.”

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He continued: “I think it [The Horn] has always had to live in the shadow of London and no one recognises how fantastic it is. St Albans has such a hardcore music scene going on and it’s truly under appreciated because as soon as you get to a certain level London seems to eclipse it – but this is where it all began and this is where people began cutting their teeth.”

Friendly Fires and the Herts Advertiser are urging the people of St Albans to vote for The Horn to get the venue the recognition it deserves.

Promotional manager at The Horn, Hansi K�ppe, said: “It would mean everything to get the title. Everyone has heard of NME and to be recognised by something like that would just be awesome. If we do get the title it is going to be a lot easier to get signed bands and touring bands down here because we will be recognised nationally.

“In St Albans there are just so many amazing musicians and it’s such a creative place so the music here is a very high standard. And it’s absolutely fantastic when these bands start in a little venue like this and they actually come back and show their appreciation, things like that keep venues like us going really.”

Owner Adrian Bell added: “It would be the biggest accolade we could get as a small music venue. We deserve to be recognised, we’ve introduced so many bands – like Enter Shikari, Subways and The Gallows.”

To vote for The Horn and explain why it should win the coveted title, visit before May 11. Friendly Fires’ second album is released on May 16.