Concert Review: Lilies on Mars and Fanfarlo

April 14, 2014: The Shelter, Detroit

I had forgotten how much I loved Fanfarlo‘s debut album, Reservoir, until I had it on repeat to get myself ready to see the band live. I listened to it non-stop when it first came out, but it eventually fell by the wayside as other albums caught my attention. Listening to the album all day was a great reminder of why I had not hesitated to get tickets when I saw that the band was touring to support their new album, Let’s Go Extinct.

I was a little baffled when I got to The Shelter shortly after doors and found only three other patrons in the venue. There hadn’t been much of a change by the time opening act, Lilies on Mars, took the stage but at least that meant that we could secure a nice spot right in the front.

The Italian dream pop duo kicked off the night with “See You Sun” from their album Dot to Dot. Lisa Masia and Marina Crisofalo use guitars and synths to create psychedelic shoegaze folk. It sounds like a strange combination but the girls definitely make it work. “Sugar Is Gone” mixed spacey samples and the layered vocals of the duo creating a beautiful atmosphere in the small space of The Shelter. Fanfarlo’s own Cathy Lucas and Valentina Magaletti joined Lilies on Mars on stage for the last two songs, “No Way” and “So Far Dear America”. It was great watching the four ladies rocking out together and helped get the small crowd ready for Fanfarlo.

The stage was filled with a plethora of instruments: guitars, bass, keyboards, trumpet, saxophone, and even a saw. Seeing all the instruments on stage assured me that it was going to be a fantastic show. A few more people had arrived in time for Fanfarlo to take the stage, instantly jumping into “Ghosts”. Their live sound is even more enchanting then the sound they produce on their albums.

My personal favorite moment was when they played my favorite track, “I’m a Pilot”. It always makes the night better when you get to hear your favorite song performed live, but this was truly a special moment. I was close enough to the stage that I couldn’t see the people standing next to me in my peripheral vision so it was almost as if the band was playing this song just for me. The moment was quickly shattered after the song finished and the board froze causing the band to have to take a momentary break from playing while it was fixed, but it will still live on as one of my favorite concert moments.

The break in music did allow for Simon to tell us how he had broken his acoustic guitar the day before. It had split up the side and he had gone to a thrift store and bought someone’s old diary to patch it up with. It sounds like a story that inspires a song and perhaps that will be the case on a future release from the band.

The evening was closed out with “Let’s Go Extinct” and “The Walls Are Coming Down” as the encore. Cathy and Simon harmonized perfectly together on “Let’s Go Extinct”, which helped catapult the song to becoming a new favorite of mine. “The Walls Are Coming Down” was a fantastic way to end the evening as it featured just about every instrument the band had up there, a great reminder of how musically talented each member is.

The crowd may have been small, but everyone was really excited to get to see Fanfarlo live. Most stuck around after to chat with the band, who were very happy to oblige everyone who wanted pictures and autographs. It was a captivating evening spent with a very charming band and while the small crowd was nice, I truly hope that there is a proper crowd of people to welcome Fanfarlo to Detroit the next time they come around.