Fruity Water – The Black Dove, Brighton – 30th March 2018

Photo by Liam McMillen

You’ve got to hand it to Fruity Water. Not only have they released their album independently (through local micro-label Big Salad Records), but their Thirst Takes launch show carried the same DIY aesthetic. So much so, that while I was in the cosy confines of The Black Dove, nestled firmly in St James’ Street, I felt like I was gatecrashing a private party. There was a real personal vibe to the evening, as if everyone felt personally attached to the celebration. Nevertheless, Fruity Water’s performance, showcasing the album from start to finish, was sublime, truly exhibiting Adam Bell and Smalan Odgers’ sheer artistry as musicians.

Making the night even more special was opening act, Quite Lovely, with their first ever gig. The new project from Aarron King was a delightful way to kick off the night. “We’re going to play some Brazilian music” they declared at the beginning of their set, and it certainly brought tropical vibes to the tiny basement of The Black Dove. Like a mix between Seu Jorge and Tim Maia, it was a gorgeous, laid-back set that nicely eased the crowd into the night. Simply put, Quite Lovely were quite lovely.

Next up was Alex White, of Electric Soft Parade and Brakes fame, who played an acoustic set brimming with melancholia. “I’m going to play a few Irish songs” White said in the middle of his set, “but I don’t know any Westlife or Boyzone, sorry” he quipped. What followed was a thing of beauty. Covering the famous Irish song ‘On Raglan Road’, a mist of silence fell upon The Black Dove in one of the most poignant moments of the night. Delightfully sentimental, and packed with real meaning, it was an excellent set.

After two excellent sets, it was time for Fruity Water to join their own party, and with opener ‘Join the Dots’ they took things up a notch further already. A beautiful, meandering track, it’s a song that, clearly, the crowd had heard many times as they sang along to the chorus with an immense spirit. In fact, throughout the first section of the set, Fruity Water felt and sounded like a band at least three albums into their career. Debut single ‘Wasted Summer’ was met with delight, while the synth-pop of ‘Dance With Me’ saw the most dancing of the night, and the dreamy ‘Rules’ received rapturous applause.

After sixth song ‘I Control the Sun’, the band announced that, “We’ve never played the rest of these songs, so get ready for part two”, but there was no reason to worry. Like all great second sides, Fruity Water’s Thirst Takes is much more experimental, but it further exhibited the talent of both Bell and Odgers. Eponymous song ‘Fruity Water’ brought the tempo down a little bit with its laid back, Sunday afternoon atmosphere, while the methodical electronica of ‘Bye Bye Me’ brought an almost trance-like state out of the audience.

The best moment, and song, of the night, however, came from final song ‘No Happy Endings’. The repetition of its line: “I sincerely hope I won’t see you again” was soon picked up by the crowd. So much so, that by the end of the song the whole crowd continued to sing the line back at them in a moment that felt like an enormous celebration of the band and the brilliant record they’ve created. Performing an excellent album in full, in front of a bunch of their friends and relatives, it was a glorious achievment for the band, and has all the potential to be an “I was there” moment, if ever there was one.

Liam McMillen