“Sorry, we’ve slowed down a bit these days” smirks Fat White Family’s vocalist Lias Saoudi a couple of songs into the band’s show at The Lexington. Tonight isn’t any old normal billing for The Lexington, either: almost fourteen months ago the beloved London venue closed its doors against a pandemic that needs no further introduction. It’s one hell of an understatement to say that nothing’s been the same since, and now even the reliably rowdy and in-your-face Fat White Family are sitting on stools performing a stripped-back and seated gig of contemplative country-tinged music.
Maybe it’s because it’s still daylight outside as everyone takes their seat, but it is surely the most well-behaved Fat Whites gig in history. Sitting politely in their seats throughout and clapping appreciatively at songs they don’t know yet, the tiny crowd take in a set largely formed of new material from the band’s recent short film Moonbathing in February. A little surreal, sure – but still a celebration.
In some ways, the mellow flute and synth vibes on display here are the perfect easing back into some form of normality. The moshes can wait for now – tonight it was enough just being together again. Here’s what went down, in pictures.
Fat White Family played:
‘Buried in the Bleak’
‘Waters / Vision Of Pain’
‘Killed A Child’
‘Waiting For Adam’
Words and photography: Jamie MacMillan
Maybe the other half of the Family were taking advantage of those newly-allowed holiday flights abroad that the news kept banging on about? Regardless, we are left in the capable hands of Alex White, Lias Saoudi and Nathan Saoudi tonight.
A Fat Whites gig normally teeters on the very edge of outrage and chaos, but tonight is a more sedate and controlled affair – one of poise and quiet beauty. Flute, acoustic guitar and synths might not be exactly what we were expecting but it’s pretty much what we needed.
“I once got sucked off by a Californian yoga instructor”, confesses Lias during the aptly titled opener ‘Confessions’. Some things never change.
It’s not a singalong kind of affair. Just two songs are served up tonight from earlier albums – ‘Serf’s Up!’ tracks ‘Oh Sebastian’ and ‘Rock Fishes’.
Being in a room with people! Witnessing live music in the flesh instead of watching glitchy streams on dodgy wi-fi! How we have missed thee!
Nathan Saoudi fully embracing the casual vibes of the night during a flute solo – as you do.
And what a flute solo it is too!
Everyone here at The Lexington’s trying to get the hang of how gigs work again – even the band.
With just 36 people in the hushed room, it can’t help but feel intimate. Absolute silence descends over the crowd during each song, everybody leaning further in to embrace new music.
“This is a song for our guitarist, Adam” Lias tells the audience before ‘Waiting For Adam’. “A man who likes to take it real slow.” It could have become a comedy skit, but it somehow instead turns into one of the night’s most strangely affective moments.
Much of tonight’s new material feels like it has come straight out of country-pop singer Lee Hazlewood territory, culminating in the gorgeous ‘Moonbathing’
Even though nobody mentions it, tonight is ultimately a celebration of people getting through a profoundly strange year, and of The Lexington reopening after over a year.
“You weren’t expecting a rave-up were you?” Lias asks at the end of the set. Polite applause ensues. “Oh. You were?” Though tonight marks a decidedly different kind of show for Fat White Family, it just feels good to be back. After all the blood, sweat and tears of the last year or so, it’s testament to the herculean efforts from Music Venue Trust and music venues everywhere that we’re here.