Concert Review: Ten Fé @ Songbyrd Music House (3/17/19)

Ten Fé @ The White House
Ten Fé in DC (Photo from FB @tenfemusic)

Ten Fé helped DC close out a successful Sunday St. Patrick’s Day, with a fine performance at Songbyrd Music House.

Ten Fé is a five-piece band from the UK that captures a signature catchy and addictive indie pop and Americana style. Started as just Fé by two musicians/songwriters, Ben Moorhouse and Leo Duncan, whom both sang lead vocals equally throughout their set, the band in its current name and configuration released their first album in 2017.

Leo sang lead on much of their newer material (from their second album, Future Perfect, Present Tense) while Ben sang more from the first album, Hit the Light. Songbyrd had a robust crowd, not a sell out. Let’s attribute that to people prioritizing other St. Pat’s shenanigans. It could also be this was their first tour in the U.S. and they’re still young in the hearts and minds of concertgoers. Take a moment to give them a listen.

They kicked off the show with “Won’t Happen” from the new album, about getting caught in infidelity, and making promises that it won’t happen again, but let’s face it, it probably will. I like the upbeat melody and Leo’s pleading voice, but my favourite* part is during the line “And I know you won’t stop, ’til you’ve got your two cents, but your two pence is a nuisance”, because the stark play of the phrase to ‘two pence’ had me nodding that they were definitely a UK band. Later Leo let us know this was actually his day, since he was from Dublin.

The band is rounded out by Rob Shipley on bass, Johnny Drain on keyboard and their new drummer, Greg. Most of the members come from London.

Next came “Coasting”, a sunny look at enjoying what you have (in love) and not letting others define who you are. Possibly my favourite lyric of theirs is (emphasis mine), “Everybody’s telling me I’m half the man I used to be, but I’ve only lost what I didn’t want.” I like that, and have wondered how that can apply to each of us.

Ben picked up with “Overflow” from the first album, where the keyboards reminded me a little of “Coming to America”, and mid-way through “Turn” proved to be a groovy song, that transformed into a long, spacey jam session.

Near the end of the set, they plucked the first few chords of “Don’t Forget” to cheers from the front row. Some people knew all about Ten Fé. The song itself is a plaintive plea about love that’s over, but also ended with a rocking jam session. Maybe they want to add ‘jam band’ to their bio. Or maybe they didn’t want St. Pat’s to end.

“Caught On the Inside” ended the main set with another catchy hook and chorus. Virtually all their songs achieve that. In total they played 14 songs, seven from Future Perfect, Present Tense.

With only Ben and Leo coming back on for the encore, they did a low-key, but spot-on cover of Bruce Springsteen and E Street Band’s “I’m on Fire”. Then the full band returned to play “In the Air”, off their first album, and “Single, No Return”. This last song was only (ironically?) released as a single, and the guitar hooks and melody lingers to the point you feel like you’re in a trance. The chorus gets you moving even though you didn’t realize it. Although this could be their best song, and a nearly perfect way to end their set, hopefully the sentiment of burning bridges and not returning won’t come to pass. Ten Fé should return to DC for their next U.S. tour!

Won’t Happen
Not Tonight
Echo Park
Isn’t Ever a Day
Can’t Take You With Me
Don’t Forget
Caught On the Inside

I’m on Fire (Bruce Springsteen and E Street Band cover)
In the Air
Single, No Return


* Maybe a UK editor got a hold of this blog post?

Author: Jeremy Bailey

Writer and editor living in Washington, D.C.

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