Awkward set from a band with so much potential
When Fear of Flying take to the stage they don't look happy although the Metro is surprisingly full - it's usually almost empty. It's obvious that the crowd around the stage are largely existing fans, because their singer introduces the first song as a new one as if they've already heard new material ('maybe you haven't heard this one yet'). It's quite painful to watch just how awkward they are during and between songs. The music is better though, although the very prominent bass is deafening loud. There are definite similarities to the Kaiser Chiefs and the Cure and their singer sounds like a cross between Ricky Wilson and Robert Smith, all agonised with occasional high-pitched singing. At first I think that they're an instrumental band, but that's because his singing is a bit sparse.
Things pick up with 'Sit', that's a bit more of a happy song, although the Kaiser Chief's theme seems to continue what with the melodic riffs and gruff English accents. This is very much a band that's riding the crest of the Franz Ferdinand wave. There's one thing very noticeable about Fear of Flying: they play everything really fast, something akin to speed new wave. But then, they surprise us with a blistering intro that's a damn sight heavier. Then it descends into the same speed new wave, which is a shame as the heavy sound would have made a welcome change.
And, as if it wasn't bad enough that the band seem awkward on stage (much like their music, which at least is decent), bassist Charles' equipment starts breaking. It's the use of first name terms that make me unsure whether they just don't want to be there, or they're just really shy - singer treats us to a blues solo though. The next song proves worth the wait, with a gorgeous, even gentle kind of indie. However, like the one before, the effect is spoiled when the speed new wave kicks in. If only they didn't do that, it would be much better. Most people in the venue are down by the stage, but reactions are muted - the music really isn't made for dancing and bouncing around to.
So when he declares that 'Charles is preparing for some funky sounds', there is a promise of better things to come. And indeed there are, the punky, disjointed sound makes it one of the better songs of the set. The performance is impassioned, and a C+W breakdown in the middle just adds to the eccentricity. The last song sees a return to speed new wave but, this time skewed through the punky, distorted sound. And it's only now that the audience start getting into it, but I can't say I blame them really.
Fear of Flying are frustrating, as they could be so much better if they varied their sound more - there's more to life than speed new wave. And one definite positive to come out of the set was the singer's voice, melancholy and yearning but still affecting. As a support band, they certainly weren't bad though.