Portland Arms, Cambridge
Fonda 500 had a few years off recording before last year’s ‘I Heart Fonda 500’ album and hadn’t visited Cambridge for ten years. Anyhow, here we were on a Friday night for a run through their 20 years of metronomic hits.
Lead keyboard mangler Simon still wears his woolly hat (“it smells like a horse”) pulled down to his eyes to attack his Casiotone MT-65, ladybassist Bod still makes grown men swoon, guitarist Nicholas and Jonee flank either side of the stage, and drummer Ian hides behind his kit except for his brief lead vocal during ‘I.a.m.a.d.r.u.m.m.e.r.’
A set drawn mostly from the last two albums kicked off with I Love Stereo ‘Cos Stereo’s Good For Me, The Sounds Sound Warmer when the Sound is Shared With You, Je m’appelle Stereo got the audience dancing, Jenny #1, both Golden Digits of Devilry and Mathematiques from last year’s album, early single Computer Freaks of the Galaxy, and we all threw caution to the wind during set finisher Electronique Bee 101. Between songs, Simon cracked jokes, threw sequins into the crowd, blew up and let off balloons, and sent up the serious muso stereotype.
They played the same venue back then, to a full house of 60. The venue has since expanded but Friday’s audience was about the same headcount. In fact, I recognised many of them from last time. For an act “always changing, always the same” this perhaps is no surprise.
It made me think..
It is lovely to see a band who obviously enjoy each other’s company on stage, and they all smile. Musically, think Stereolab with a sense of humour. They’ll always have a dedicated core audience but are unlikely to expand upon it by now.
All of their albums contain some tracks which are half-written songs, keyboard doodles, subconscious mumblings. They should really release a best of album based upon their live set.