I kind of owe a great deal to this band as they got me noticed as a serious reviewer and gave me the confidence to move on with this blog and beyond. So the story goes, I review the band on this very blog, a few months later I contacted Music Insider Magazine in California, The Fireflys appeared in print. My blog blossomed, these guys continually support me, so I continually support them.
So when the chance arose to go to my first gig in years, almost on my doorstep at The Brindley, Runcorn it was a no-brainer. Including The Spase and Chasing Infinity, who I'd also covered in print for a "Cheshire Rocks" article in InCheshire and Prestbury Living magazines, it had to be done!
I decided to drag my brother Mike along, thinking he would appreciate an Acoustic gig as he has played guitar in a few bands over the years. I went only as a fan, to enjoy myself, to relax and have a "quiet night" out for the first time in a long while! I wasn't going to do a review but I thought, why not, it was such an amazing gig, I'll give it a try.
The Spase were first onto the stage, Andy and Peter got the crowd bubbling with a fine set. The songs which I had listened to regularly on YouTube, "A Roaming Son" and "The Shooting Star" were delivered with supreme accuracy, and for just two guys, they really owned the stage. They had a couple of laughs with the audience and showed what down-to-earth guys they were and incredibly talented. Andy's vocals were complimented on by my brother Mike, I was thinking he was going to be impressed tonight, and the bands were not going to disappoint!.
Chasing Infinity came up next, (long night for Adele Halsall, the lead singer, as she was singing with The Fireflys later!). The band were such a tight unit, nothing was amiss, Adele's vocals were spot on, and I smiled at Rob Saunders on bass and harmonica, Mike commented that he's a brilliant musician but his dancing had no rhythm (sorry Rob!). I have to say, the harmonica playing by Rob was absolutely amazing. So amazing it was, that Lee later on in The Fireflys set didn't even bother to play harmonica, as it "wasn't worth it!". Mark Rice on drums and Paul McCormick on guitar and backing vocals were superb. I could see the No Doubt comparison quite clear, with Rob's quirky dancing and the Ska - influenced Pop Rock sound. Mike commented that were a little like the Rock band Romeo's Daughter (look them up), one of his favourite bands. So with the audience now at fever pitch, Chasing Infinity's set was perfect for the crowd, they were in a frenzy waiting for the main event, The Fireflys were back home.
So on they came, to a rapturous welcome, it made me feel like I was watching something big. The crowd roared their approval like loyal supporters welcoming their football team home after a massive cup win, and they hadn't played a note yet! This is an ironic comparison because later on, some girls thought it ideal to sing "we love you Fireflys, we do, oh Fireflys we love you" in football chant mode!
The band looked totally stunned to a man (and woman as Adele had returned as co-vocalist, well done girl, you must have been shattered by the end!). Lee Wylding (vocals/guitar), Stephen Roberts (bass/ukulele), Chris Tann (keyboards), Andrea Packer (drums) and David Packer (guitar) I think it's fair to say, were "gobsmacked" by the welcome. The heroes had returned to their hometown.
The Fireflys back catalogue is extensive but they treated us to all the fan favourites including "Julianne", "Dear Emily", "Jenny, Play Your Guitar", "Hummingbird" and the opening track, "Release/Repeat".
There were also new tracks from the forthcoming new album "The Illumination Of Everything". "When We Were Young" and "Sever" serve as tasty teasers for what's to come!. There was an amusing anecdote from Lee for "Sever". Apparently Lee needed a rhyming word for "forever" to which Andrea replied "Sever", so the band joked around at how she wrote the whole song. Ste was adamant, "she got a word in the song AND the title, it's Andie's song!"
The songs "Branches" and "Between The Tide" stood out from the gig. I commented that "Branches" was a lilting mixed masterpiece of sadness and hope. The emotion of it really hit home that night, you could feel it in the crowd. A real sense of optimism. The sing-a-long that Lee conducted for the lines "of our love" and "out of stone" for the right and left of the audience was superb. A perfect audience participation!
The band ended with "Between The Tide", and what an ending, superbly played and superbly received. The standing ovation at the end was very moving, not just for the band, even for a fan, this was a band to watch, they are getting bigger and better.
Mike and I thoroughly enjoyed it, was a fantastic night, so much that he had tiny regrets and reflected on his band days. Grabbing a new fan in the process, and also a t-shirt, a promo single and an album box set, my night was complete!