The Electric Picnic has a special place in Fight Like Apes‘ hearts. A cold, nightmarish place but a place nonetheless. It was here that they arrived in 2007, the buzz band of the moment and preceded to make an utter balls of their Sunday afternoon set. Three years, a few hours and two albums later they have a second bite of the cherry. Bounding on stage – the boys in co-ordinated Adidas trackies, Mary-Kate shimmering – they look to mean business but a messy, floundering version of ‘Poached Eggs’ gets them off to a false start. Surely it couldn’t happen again?
Thankfully after that wobbly beginning the band settle down into the kind of performance that we’ve come to expect from them, on the surface at any rate. Yet as with everything about Fight Like Apes these days, the surface is only a fraction of the story. The tired four piece who dragged their debut around for far too long are gone, replaced by a new focus and enthusiasm. Yes the old tricks are still in place but it’s impossible not to get swept away by the excitement of it all. Crucially, the band themselves manage to not get totally carried away – maintaining a discipline that plays to their strengths as opposed to simply playing to the crowd.
Much of it must come down to the presentation of the new songs. Mindful that the record has only been out a week they chose not to load their forty five minute set with them, yet those that do make an appearance are the clear highlights. The album’s twin key moments ‘Pull Off Your Arms And Let’s Play In Your Blood’ and ‘Waking Up With Robocop’ are sadly absent but a cello enhanced ‘Katmandu (Face It, You’re Caviar, I’m Hotdogs)’ and ‘Thank God You Weren’t Thirsty (Lightbulb)’ are both clear indications that this is a band that has moved forward, not just in leaps and bounds but with courage and conviction. Then just to prove that they haven’t gone completely serious on us, they throw in a party starting cover of ‘Push It’.
And so, while Two Door Cinema Club are coming of age a few hundred yards away in the Electric Arena, Fight Like Apes are pulling off a similar trick. This genuinely feels like the start of something, proof that while the past was fun, the future is going to be something utterly special. There’s clearly a lot more to come from but if they can play shows this good this early in the campaign then there really is no stopping them.
Photos by Kieran Frost.