Friendly Fires fail to get the party started

*** (3 stars out of 6): July 8 at Arena, Roskilde Festival

St Albans-based indie rock boys Friendly Fires did what they could do keep the audience entertained at Roskilde Festival's Arena stage with a decent show early yesterday evening. Roskilde Festival's arrangers had eloquently described the eclectic Brits as being one of the party acts to watch out for at the event. Their slot at the Arena stage early on Sunday evening before the concluding concerts of the festival suggested that they were supposed to have gotten the wind-up party proceedings going with a bang. It therefore came as something of a disappointment when this didn't really happen, despite the best efforts on the band's part.

The lively 2009 Mercury Prize nominees came on a little later than expected owing to technical difficulties at the start of a show, which meant that giving a good performance was going to be a challenge from the start. Lead singer Ed Macfarlane was clearly not amused by the sound problems, apologising curtly before getting things started.

Playing to a mixed crowd with the sun dipping gently to the west of Arena, Friendly Fires rolled out a steady stream of funk-filled, dance-punk tinged tunes for the first half an hour or so of their show in an effort to set things in motion.

One hour in and the recognisable quick-tempo sounds of signature track 'Paris' thundered across the reasonably-filled Arena stage, much to the delight of the crowd, who up until this point were more cool and casual than anything else. And whilst Friendly Fires have been known to be quite the party starters, with their cunning concoction of disco and post-punk brilliance, it would be unfair to say that they were at their best yesterday. Led by their hard-working frontman Macfarlane, the band did try to redeem what was ultimately a lukewarm party from the start, by churning out tracks such as 'Pull Me Back to Earth' which helped patch things up, if only momentarily. Two post-curtain call tracks and the party that never really got started was over, with the bitter tinge of disappointment spread across Roskilde's Arena scene. Friendly Fires will surely fire again, but it just wasn't their day yesterday.