On the way in, an orange paper bracelet was attached to the FT’s wrist to prove that your correspondent was over 18: an unnecessary precaution, I’m afraid to say. Evidently licensing laws prohibited an influx of Fun’s new constituency of fans – the teens who have flocked to the New York band’s anthem “We Are Young”. It’s the year’s best-selling single in the US, shifting more than 4m copies. Now it’s a UK top 10 hit too.
I should point out at this stage that they’re actually called fun., with the lower case ‘f’ and the full stop. What an irritating, newspaper-unfriendly name. As we’re all over 18 let’s make a grown-up decision to ignore it. For our purposes they shall be Fun. And tonight they were indeed fun.
Other bands riding high on a breakthrough hit might have looked askance at being required to play a tiny basement venue on a dismal Monday evening in a chilly foreign city. But the trio – supplemented live by three extra musicians – radiated a wholly convincing exuberance.
Their frontman Nate Ruess bounced around the stage and threw himself at the songs as if singing were a contact sport. The music was similarly energetic, matching Ruess’s vibrant vocals with brash rhythms. “All the Pretty Girls”, from 2010’s Aim & Ignite, sounded like the cast of Glee impersonating Queen. “Some Nights”, the title track of their new album, clattered by with tribal drums, stadium-friendly chants, an urgent guitar solo and Auto-Tuned singing.
The band negotiated these busy themes expertly. They’re not fresh-faced teens themselves (Ruess is 30), and they clearly know their way around a song. There was however a tendency towards overkill, summed up by the way “We Are Young” lurched from wistful lyrics about an ambiguously poised relationship into battering platitudes about youth.
Final number “Take Your Time (Coming Home)” was a tumbling mass of piano and guitars, like caffeinated Elton John. Ruess sang it wrapped in a Union Jack flag he plucked from the audience. The cramped space suddenly seemed like the vestibule to a more capacious venue. I suspect it won’t be long before Fun are faced by ranks of teens bellowing along to “We Are Young”.