On their second visit to Birmingham this year, London-based quartet Flyte played a characteristically charming and enamouring show last Tuesday night at the O2 Academy3.
Their autumn tour follows the release of their long-awaited debut album ‘The Loved Ones’. Flyte’s set was a reel of new releases, with a few pre-album treats and audience requests (‘Spiral’, ‘Light Me Up’) to embellish a stellar set list. After performances from support acts Monday Club and the folksy Grafton Ash, Flyte’s stage presence began before they even came on – with a camera-friendly illuminated ‘Flyte’ sign.
Their performance began with single ‘Victoria Falls’, the album’s first track, and one of the first tastes fans had of ‘The Loved Ones’. A very well received starts quickly flowed into the equally catchy, synth-based ‘Echoes’. The two singles were a strong start to the show, two well-known tracks guaranteed to entice the crowd.
Staying on this level, the band played fan-favourite ‘Closer Together’, an upbeat indie-pop track from 2015, and one that was (much to my disappointment) missing from their spring tour. Listening to Flyte play compares to listening to their album: the vocals and emotive 60s-sounding harmonies remain faultless, but the atmosphere of the crowd is something beyond.
Amongst these perfect harmonies and Beatles-esque melodies, the group filled the spaces between with jokes, stories, and backgrounds to their music. The few English Literature students (myself included) in the crowd appreciated a shout-out to Evelyn Waugh, whose novel ‘Brideshead Revisited’ was the source of their “pretentiously spelt” band name, as well as other titles ‘Orphans of the Storm’, ‘The Loved One[s]’, and ‘Decline & Fall’. Much like their literary inspirations, Flyte’s album and live appearance play out like a story you don’t want to end.
‘Harley Street’, another hidden YouTube classic, was a love letter to older fans, and another song for new fans to discover. An intimate venue, the audience settled to listen to the performance, but the enthusiastic singing along during ‘Cathy Come Home’ lit up the room, the faces of the band, and the energy of the crowd.
After explaining the conventions of the encore, and deciding to revert them, Flyte played their “last song”: an a cappella version of ‘Archie, Marry Me’, one of the band’s popular YouTube covers (and a fantastic song from Alvvays) that made it to studio album release. Away from the instruments, the choral effects of the band’s harmonies through, and it was a stunning “end” to the set.
For their “encore”, the band played to the middle of the crowd, within the audience. An acoustic version of ‘Faithless’ was deferred as they were drawn into a rendition of ‘Light Me Up’ after crowd encouragement.
Flyte remains as one of those bands where you will find the same musical ability both live and studio, but the atmosphere of hearing them live is another dimension altogether. All in all, they’re well worth missing your last train home for.