Live Review: Fenne Lily - The Borderline, London 12/10/2018


There’s always a fine line when it comes to talking between songs, at gigs. If you don’t talk at all, then you run the risk of having a disconnect with the audience and at times seeming like you’re rushing to get through the set. If you talk too much then it can be construed as stalling to cover up something that’s going wrong, or you run the risk of frustrating people who just want to hear the music. Luckily for Fenne Lily, who has the gift of the gab, she knew just when to draw the line.

Fenne Lily was in a really chatty mood on Friday night and a part of me suspects that it was because of the excitement at selling out her first ever show. There was a strong feminine presence in the room and Wyldest were the support act, who got everyone warmed up. With a sound that fleeted anywhere between Foals, Daughter and Warpaint, the main elements of Wyldest’s sound was indie, with a bit of shoegaze thrown in for good measure. Their lazing vocals and classic guitar riffs also occasionally reminded me what I would imagine would happen if Soccer Mommy wrote happy songs. Whilst the main bulk of their set was full of older songs, Wyldest took the opportunity to play songs ‘Alive’ and ‘Fire Fight’ which will be on their new album and their entire performance had the air of young adults being carefree and having fun – I couldn’t help but think of Stranger Things for most of it.

The main topic of conversation, when Fenne Lily came on stage was to do with temperature – that she looked hot herself, was a given, but the sweltering temperatures in the basement, was something that Fenne couldn’t keep off her mind. Opening the set with ‘Three Oh Nine’ and ‘Car Park’ the upbeat indie vibes gave way for a more moody, melancholic tone which was always welcomed by Fenne’s chatter. Discussing her outfit for the evening Fenne joked how she shouldn’t have worn any clothes because it was so sweaty. “I only wore a suit ‘cause I saw Debbie Harry once wore a suit […] I saw that they played here; and Muse – but they’re one of my least favourite bands.”

Later in the set, Fenne joked about how they had planned the setlist “badly” by playing all the slow songs in the middle. “We’re gonna play all the fast songs at the end so you’ll all be mad […] maybe there will be a mosh pit. Please don’t. someone will get squashed, it might be my Nana.” All jokes aside, without it being pointed out, you wouldn’t have noticed the ordering of songs, as after playing ‘Brother’, Fenne invited her 14-year-old friend Rory on stage, who danced along to ‘Top to Toe’ which broke up the set a little bit. Next, after telling people not to record the following songs or they would get fucked up, Fenne played two new songs – the first of which, a melancholic ballad that showcased her witty song-writing skills; “it’s not hard to be alone anymore though I’m sleeping with my key in the door”. The next was slightly heavier than her normal songs with a kind of 40’s/50’s feel and the working title of ‘Mezzanine Dream’.

After playing ‘On Hold’ and a cover of ‘Unfuck The World’ by Angel Olsen, Fenne sipped from a bottle of wine and went on a rant about statistics of girls in school uniform being harassed. To a roar of applause, she stated “someone suggested girls wear trousers to school, I suggested tell guys to stop harassing girls”. She explained that she didn’t want it to be the end of the set which is why she was getting carried away distracted; “I must admit it’s too bright to be immersed in this. If you’re pale I can see you. If you have braces I can see you. If you have glasses I can see you. If not, you’re dead to me.”

A part of me started to wonder if Fenne was having a go at stand-up comedy. After admitting that it was time to go, they played ‘For A While’ as the last song. Considering at Fenne’s last gig, someone vandalised the show and her ex-boyfriend turned up, it’s safe to say that this gig was a success and it is no surprise why she didn’t want it to end!

Fenne Lily’s knack for writing heartfelt break-up songs really set the tone for a moody venture into the weekend. They say you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, and in Fenne’s case, this couldn’t be more clear. With a voice that sometimes barely breaks out from a whisper, its easy to paint the picture of a heartbroken female. What Fenne does best, is expressing herself in a journalistic manner, that can seem almost too brutally honest, but this is where she stands out from her musical peers.

Words by Tyler Damara Kelly