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Fun. – Live @ XOYO

When writing about America’s new, commotion-causing party popsters Fun., it’s conventional to indicate to the reader two things about their band name: a moan about the typing difficulties surrounding the way they’ve stylised ‘fun’ (ohh, that pesky full-stop…), and a zingy pun to prove the wit of the writer. I am going to do my best to avoid that second thing.

Fun. have had the highest selling single of the year in the US (six weeks at No. 1), and managed to hit No. 3 here in the UK. They have become massive. Yet, here they are at London’s XOYO (14/05/12), a grimy, little basement club in East London (note: not a particularly suitable location for the troupe of screaming young girls). Nonetheless, Fun. look very pleased to be here at what they tenuously call their “homecoming show”, and wholeheartedly make the most of XOYO’s intimacy, fully aware of the fact they’ll probably never have to play a venue like this again.

Officially a trio, the indie pop band have tonight expanded to a six-piece, with the multi-instrumentalists generating a grandiose sound of pop-perfection. Kicking off with newbie ‘One Foot’, they run through an hour-long set that cherry-picks almost equally from both their underappreciated rock debut (‘Aim and Ignite’) and their overhyped, pop follow-up (‘Some Nights’).

It’s unsurprising that Fun.’s brand of theatrical pop-rock has been compared to Queen, with news tracks like the stings-laden ‘Carry On’ and snare-heavy highlight ‘Some Nights’ incorporating Brian May-esque guitar noodlings alongside melodic piano parts and stadium-ready vocal harmonies. However, old songs like the lively ‘Walking The Dog’ and ska punk-tinted ‘At Least I’m Not as Sad (As I Used to Be)’ have a pop-punk tone more inline with Fall Out Boy, Paramore and Panic! At The Disco.

Frontman Nate Ruess (former frontman of The Format) has the best voice of any genre I have heard this year, hitting the highest of high notes, but only when necessary. His between-song-banter, however, needs a little (slash a lot of) work – his anecdote about writing ‘Why Am I The One’ (a song that sounds like it belongs on a Disney soundtrack) whilst crying into a mirror in a London hotel was soul destroying, and his mention of touring with the increasingly unpopular Paramore turned cheers to a death hush, killing any sense of fun (dammit!).

Naturally, the greatest crowd reaction comes from mega-single ‘We Are Young’, which best showcases their new direction: dance-music laced, anthemic pop. Yet Fun. look happiest when performing ‘Take Your Time (Coming Home)’ as their encore, with Ruess draped in a fan’s union jack (with ‘FUN.’ scribbled onto it) whilst bellowing out his finest vocal performance of the night – fittingly pompous, but perhaps they fall into the Jimmy Eat World trap of relying too heavily, and too often, on whoah-ohs and nanas.

All in all, an electrifying event. Fun. have it all: the charisma and accomplished musicianship, the songs, the rock energy, and one of the best voices about. They might make it look easy, but few bands have managed to make music as incredibly accessible yet suitably intelligent as this (including Gotye). However, upon leaving XOYO there was an underlying negative feeling, as if something wasn’t quite right, as if it was too perfect. It all felt too clean and tidy. Their move from the largely ignored pop-punk of their rockier debut to the mainstream pop of their synthier sophomore has a whiff of something unbecoming, and it’s all a little unnervingly intentional.

SETLIST:

  1. One Foot 
  2. Walking the Dog 
  3. Why Am I the One 
  4. All the Pretty Girls 
  5. Barlights 
  6. Carry On 
  7. The Gambler 
  8. At Least I’m Not as Sad (As I Used to Be) 
  9. We Are Young 
  10. Some Nights 
    Encore:
  11. Take Your Time (Coming Home)

Originally published by Gigwise here

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~ by cliveparisrozario on May 16, 2012.

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