Friends Review — Brighton Source

Close up of Samantha Urbani of Friends
Friends

It’s warm and tranquil on the seafront tonight and SOURCE is at Coalition to catch Brooklyn band Friends return after a triumphant slot at The Great Escape two years ago.

In support are Brighton duo Curxes and Manchester’s No Ceremony. The former could draw obvious comparisons with The Kills for their boy/girl dynamic, thunderous bass and looping synths. The apocalyptic industrial undercurrent running through the songs are lifted by Roberta Fidora’s haunting vocals. It’s a very promising set.

Curxes on stage at Coalition
Curxes on stage at Coalition
Curxes

No Ceremony have been causing a stir as of late with news of their debut album arriving in September and a slot with Pixies announced for the iTunes festival. Coalition is filling up now and the band play a triumphant shapeshifting set of songs that come on like lovelorn XX and transform into titanic post rave. It’s a fantastic show and when they return to Brighton to headline Coalition in September we’ll be there.

Friends have been busy since their last visit. The band released debut album ‘Manifest!’ to critical acclaim, toured fiercely and have had a change in line-up. Clad in a New York baseball cap and a half white leather jacket, frontwoman Samantha Urbani informs the crowd they’ll be playing a lot of new ones tonight. The opener sets the tone for much of the evening. It’s very new wave and has the same polished vibe as fellow New York native Dev Hynes in his Blood Orange guise.

Samantha Urbani singing into the mic
Samantha Urbani singing into the mic

The crowd is fairly subdued but hit single ‘Friend Crush’ is a livener. As Urbani leans in, sharing the mic with a fan to sing “I wanna be your friend”, the crowd react accordingly. She’s a born frontwoman, boisterous and hyperactive like a young Karen O. She manically gyrates and yelps through ‘Mind Control’ while the tribal drums and funky bass keep it all perfectly focused.

The set seems to lose momentum at the midpoint with new songs having more than a tinge of 80s balladry that sometimes comes off a bit too derivative.

The band keep things fun throughout though, interacting jovially and pouring cans of cider into the mouths of thirsty fans on the front row. New single ‘The Way’ also sounds huge; gleaming majestically and closing with a titanic Prince-sized guitar riff.

Close up of a man playing guitar
Close up of a man playing guitar

‘I’m His Girl’ and ‘Va Fan Gor Du’ are real highlights and by the time the New Yorkers finish they’ve stirred the Tuesday night crowd into hysteria under a laser show of glimmering lights at the Coalition.

Samantha Urbani singing in front of an illuminated ‘Friends’ sign
Samantha Urbani singing in front of an illuminated ‘Friends’ sign

The band are beckoned back onstage to rapturous applause. After confessing that their new guitarist has played all the songs he knows, they pull out a surprising cover of Limp Bizkit’s ‘Break Stuff’. The venue erupts and the band is swamped by an impromptu stage invasion. What a turnaround.

Urnbani screaming into the mic with a fan
Urnbani screaming into the mic with a fan

Coalition, Tuesday 16th July 2013
Words by Andy Baker
Photos by Ashley Laurence

Originally published at https://brightonsource.co.uk on July 23, 2013.

Friendly neighbourhood copy chameleon. Whatever the tone, I’ve got you.