Kicking off the first of his four-night residency in north London, Frederick Gibson, who goes by the moniker Fred Again.., took us on an emotional ride; from heartache to euphoria, fulfilment to nostalgia, ultimately ending in a state of frustration. Prior to the gig, Fred Again.. posted a statement on social media, warning that no show at Alexandra Palace would be the same as the last, with plans to change the set each night. With that in mind, this version of events may differ entirely to those that unfold over the next three days.
Opening with the gentle, spoken-word warm up track, Kyle (i found you), Fred Again.. eased the audience into a steady flow of dance tracks that blurred into one another, before the sea of ravers was asked to part down the middle to create a runway for the producer to walk down. Taking his new position atop a stage that appeared in the middle of the dance floor, Fred Again.. hit us with the grime-infused electronic track Rumble, which features Skrillex and Flowdan.
Last month, alongside vocalist Obongjayar, Fred Again.. provided a late entry for 2023’s song of the summer with the ecstatic chart hit adore u. After amassing more than 16 million streams in less than a month, the twinkly opening notes were predictably met with pure elation. “This one is for your brothers and sisters,” he declared, dedicating the song to his own sister and tugging at the heartstrings of those with siblings living outside the capital. The collective joy radiating throughout the room also bled into Strong, a song created alongside Romy of The xx, and continued into Delilah (pull me out of this).
As a producer and DJ, Fred Again’s.. showmanship is seen in the multiple instruments he darts between, as well as the film clips that provide the backdrop to his sets. A 20-metre screen the shape of a phone flashes with moments from Fred Again’s.. own camera roll, making it feel as though the audience is on a video call with the artist’s friends, family and the many musicians that feature in his music. The lighting design, stretched screen, and long, rectangular space was reminiscent of the recently closed rave venue Printworks – this show providing the perfect wake for ravers to mourn its loss.
Several things were to be expected: a need to dance but not quite enough space to do so; an audience mostly made up of men who could all have been Fred Again.. lookalikes; an overwhelming emotional journey; and sweat – so much of it that women could be seen drying their sodden hair under hand dryers in the ladies’ toilets.
The most unexpected part of the night was the omission of several of his biggest hits, including possibly his most famous track Marea (we’ve lost dancing). Convinced there would be an encore that never came, the crowd departed confused, and chanting the lyrics “we’ve lost dancing”. In this case, these words felt entirely accurate.