top of page
  • Writer's pictureCHRIS FARLIE

LIVE REVIEW: FRED'S HOUSE - NORDEN FARM ARTS CENTRE - MAIDENHEAD


It is fair to say that this evening's event did not come without it's share of trepidation and jeopardy for #TEAMw21 have a long association with Fred's House, with a number of fine riotous shared nights, that went long into the morning. This would be our first time seeing them since the departure of co lead singer Griff Jameson, something that would deliver a mortal blow to many a band. Fred's House though in a smart move eschewed the option of a direct replacement ,instead bringing in violinist and backing singer Prue Ward and in doing so theyseem to have managed to find the perfect balance of paying tribute and acknowledging their past while adding a batch of quality new songs to stamp their new identity on their future image going forward.


Prue may be the new member of the team, however the rest of the band remain the same and look as if they have been held in some sort of cryo chamber, barely seeming to have aged a day since we last saw them. Driving things from the back Paul Richards on drums, ever smiling with an unerring ability to be heard yet not overwhelm the overall sound, essential in a venue like tonights. Gafyn Jameson on bass and enthusiastic backing vocals provided energetic support, while Lachlan Golder like Paul was able to pick the right moments to make his presence felt. With Vikki Gavin stepping up with consumate ease to fully take over duties as lead singer and MC, Fred's House are once again firing on all cylinders.


The evening would commence with Prue formally introducing herself by way of a violin solo - it was dramatic classical music and for just under a minute we were entranced by the musicality however we were here for an evening of entertainment from the purveyors of perfect pop music and suddenly within the blinking of eye, the band kicked in with a soulful groove and sweet backing harmonies.


This was "World's Apart", now adorned with a slick, warm bass driven sound and sounding magnificent, Vikki spent much of the night fighting off nasty cough but her singing throughout was exemplary and the group harmonies superb. The interplay between Vikki's piano and Lachlan's guitar also worked a treat on this opening number that more than confirmed the return of Fred's House.


As the band launched into "Careless" it was more like Fred's Funky House with Gafyn's ever funkier bass and Lachlan's ruthlessly efficient guitar line - it would also see Vikki tilt her head back and really fire out the big extended notes - no cough or cold was going to stop her. The Norden Arts sound man well deserved his pay on the evening, rarely have a band sounded crisper and clearer, something that was clearly demonstrated on "Steal The Night" where Prue's plucked violin stings which gradually increased in volume were handled to great effect and the four part harmonies were clear enough that each member could still be picked out of the overall choir.


The real reassuring thing on the night was the strength of the new material, "Gaslight" one of 2 new singles would start with Lachlan's choppy guitar and attach a funky ska like verse with Vikki delivering her lyrics almost spoken a la Lily Allen, to a proper pop chorus. It would prove to be a perfect link between new and old as it segued into the more familiar "Fine Time" with a seamless blend.


More new material would come with "Never Say Never" with Prue and Vikki joining forces on the chorus to great effect which dealt with finding true happiness, Prue's violin was especially prominent throughout and the tumbling catchy chorus immediately marked this one out. Complete with a Lachlan guitar solo, this was not the work of a band resting on the laurels. Our increasing addiction to phones was addressed in another funky little number "I'll Be Running?", Vikki once again powering out her vocals while the rest of the band provided great backing harmonies.

Yet another another new single "Ecstasy" once again showcased the power of 4 voices singing together, with Lachlan's guitar again standing out. Paul's snare drum would then announce the end of the first half with a cover of "The Chain" a song purpose built for The Fred's with the harmonies and bass and electric guitar combination.


The second half would begin with a dip into the archives for "Looking Glass" which would free Vikki from keyboard duties leaving her free to dance around the stage! One of the Fred's showpiece classic tunes would follow with "Beautiful You", the announcement was met with a ripple of approval around the room. Prue's violin perfectly captured the mood of the first half the song which half way through transforms from a slow ballad into a fast paced folk song - it is pure enjoyment.


Another visit to the "Walls & Ceilings" EP for "Only The Sun" would afford us a chance to gather ourselves once more. Initially just Vikki and her piano for the opening verse before the band joined in. Vikki acknowledged this as her first song of the new era that she was truly proud of and with good cause. Prue would once more stand out with her contribution along with the bands ever present harmonies to make a truly special moment. Lachlan would take over vocal duties for "Dark City" which showed him to have plaintive Thom Yorke style vocal, with another soaring guitar solo this showed another facet to the band.


There was then a a new wave style electric guitar intro into "Walls & Ceilings", delivered with a real vibrancy of a band enjoying themselves especially on the exquisite harmonies. There was a somewhat surreal moment on "Nobody Else But Me" which would see Vikki acting out the first verse and the backing harmonies take on a real old time quality. It also allowed the assembled crowd a chance to join in with the vocals and a brief diversion into "9 To 5" - all thoroughly good fun.


From there it was on to another fan favourite in "This Little Boy", now rocked up with Prue's violin injecting additional oomph alongside Lachlans wild guitar lines.


The wholly enjoyable evening would come to a close with "Freight Train", it would open in dramatic style and probably would have done so even more but Vikki's megaphone failing to work and making her vocals actually quieter than they had been normally! Planned to be a future single, it had very dramatic opening, before launching into a powerful display of harmonies and sw the band at full tilt in a tune laden with hooks to catch onto. With Paul's drum sound approximating a speeding up train, this was a definite live centre piece in the making.


Fred's House have always had the ability to throw in a crowd pleasing cover to close out with and tonight was no different with a cracking cover of Elton John's "Tiny Dancer" sending us home with a smile on our faces. A most fabulous of evening's even with some of the band carrying their ailments, they never gave anything but their best.

Fred's House are undoubtedly back back back and ready to claim their place as being one of the most entertaining bands on the live circuit.


Future Live Dates


14th March The Musician Leicester

10th May The Sound Lounge Sutton







Comments


GET THESE ARTICLES IN YOUR INBOX

IF YOU ENJOYED THIS ARTICLE, MAKE SURE YOU SIGN UP TO EMAIL UPDATES AND NEVER MISS A REVIEW, WE WILL SEND THEM STRAIGHT TO YOUR INBOX

bottom of page