Fred Again..

Fred Again.. at Alexandra Palace review | I found you beautiful, but finished too soon

Fred Again.. proved at Alexandra Palace that his sets are designed for the big stages. But a relatively abrupt ending left you wanting more – and to have his emotive soundscapes played again and again and again.


Walking into the first of Fred Again’s four-night stint at North London’s storied Alexandra Palace, you’re given a translucent keyring that you’re told to keep hold of. Of course, you keep it somewhere safe, knowing it may well play a part in another of the superproducer’s classic, you-had-to-be-there gimmicks.

Like a lot of what Fred Again does – layering, arresting productions around voicemails from friends, or hiding scarves in Amsterdam that double-up as after-party tickets – it’s designed to make you feel part of the proceedings. Whether it’s the most ingenious music marketing of recent times or the product of an artist genuinely on par with his fanbase, his success has been meteoric.

In fact, Frederick Gibson’s rise has been so well-documented that sentiment has now shifted regarding how long his star will endure, as is always the case with hard-and-fast success stories. Blissful ambient album with his mentor Brian Eno aside, it can feel at times like we’re stuck in the same looped sample we soaked up during lockdown amid the release of the producer’s three-part Actual Life album series.

Fred Again..

Fred Again is a remarkably skilled live producer, a master craftsman with his distinctive rapid-fire drum pad. That’s in no doubt. But where this set promised to be one of his most significant London shows to date and an exhibition of his output thus far, it was occasionally stop-start, mildly predictable and abruptly ended.

By all means, there were moments of intricacy and grandeur, and Fred Again certainly proved his arena-ready status. But like the keyrings handed out at the start, not everything landed with as much impact as had been hoped; the keyrings were ultimately abandoned by many when Fred asked for them to be waved in front of phone torches.

The set had begun with the meditative slow dive of ‘Kyle (I Found You)’ – the same track that had given Apple Music’s Zane Lowe such a memorably disbelieving expression during peak Fred Again-dom last year. It was an intelligent moodsetter, sampling the romantic wisdom of poet Kyle ‘Guante’ Tran Myhre, before a triple track dose of ‘Bleu (Better With Time)’, ‘Tate (How I Feel)’, and ‘Kammy (Like I Do)’; each one of these typifying Fred Again..’s skill in blending euphoria with an underlying sorrow. It’s as though some of his tracks strike a chord by being both danceable in-the-now whilst nodding ahead to the later comedown.

This mixture of emotions would soon be swiped away by the double whammy of Four Tet-collab track ‘Jungle’ and Flowdan and Skrillex-featuring ‘Rumble’ – two tracks that are as unambiguous as their one-worded titles suggest. The jubilation of the latter track, in particular, was ramped up by the fact Fred Again had, by this point, made his way to a B-stage in the middle of the venue. It might not seem like a remarkable venture, but when you have the Midas productive touch of Fred Again, it induces a collective cheer that cuts right through.

Fred Again..

Attempts to incorporate the world beyond Fred Again’s own polished universe didn’t break any particular boundaries, as a video of Frank Ocean flashed across the screen during a rendition of ‘Chanel’ and Fred Again’s Eurotrance-like ‘Strong’ collab with The xx singer Romy was weaved neatly into the setlist.

A far more heartfelt moment arrived via the recently released single ‘Adore U’. Fred Again used the moment to spread a bit of sibling love, shouting out his sister and the brother of the track’s guest vocalist, Obongjayar. This wholesome preface, combined with the track’s upbeat, trickling synths proved one of the standouts. But in all, it typified a set that was stilted at times.

Fred Again, setting himself at the keys for ‘Angie (I’ve Been Lost)’ before segueing into the more typical house offering of ‘Clara (The Night Is Dark)’ managed to eke out a little more depth of feeling. But the most fervent reaction throughout the whole night was when the garage house of ‘Delilah (Pull Me Out Of This)’ – a fan favourite woven into a set of notable absences, not least ‘Marea (We’ve Lost Dancing)’ – came to an end.

An encore might be more attuned to bands and singers, but here you felt Fred Again could certainly have granted one. The sense of slight dissatisfaction, as you shuffled towards the doors once the house lights had turned on, epitomised the night: you wanted more because you knew just how all-consuming Fred Again can be when he really hits his stride.

Still, at least you went away with a trusty keyring as a souvenir.

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