Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Live Review: Frightened Rabbit, Newcastle University (11/5/2013)

The size and makeup of Frightened Rabbit's audience has altered immeasurably since I first saw them at Newcastle's tiny Castle Keep, but this upturn is through nothing if not hard labour. Kicking off another UK tour, the Scots returned to the region near the end of their busiest year yet; one that's brought a major label debut in Pedestrian Verse, and treks around Australia, North America (twice) and mainland Europe, together with countless festival appearances. With venues being upgraded with each fresh round, the intimacy of earlier shows is now in scant supply, but that's done little to inhibit their towering performances, which have essentially mirrored the growth heard in their stellar back catalogue.

Sadly, the University stage did prove a step too far for local support Lanterns on the Lake, whose ill-suited dreamy folk was often drowned out by sounds from the bar and beyond. The quintet's new album, Until the Colours Run is attracting admiration from all corners, but tonight their occasionally mesmerizing stay was summarised by singer Hazel Wilde, who signed off with the words "thank you for listening to us - if you were listening."

Clearly, this issue also raised its head for Frightened Rabbit. There was no way, for instance, they'd be able to reel out "Poke" in such a spacious room, but Scott Hutchinson and company are adaptable, and made up for their loss with a short stripped section amid the usual electric routine. With barely eight months having elapsed since their last visit (at The Sage Gateshead), I for one turned up hoping for a shuffled setlist, and on those grounds they certainly didn't disappoint. The reappearance of "Keep Yourself Warm" in particular went down a storm with the assembled masses, but for me it was the deeper cuts which were most welcome; a passionate, heartwarming rendition of "Scottish Winds," a glorious flashback to debut Sing the Greys via "Music Now" and best of all a shock outing for "Floating in the Forth," an emotional bombshell which seemed so unlikely I hadn't even bothered hoping for it.

In fact, The Midnight Organ Fight, the masterpiece from which the latter is taken, received an especially healthy innings, and inevitably accounted for other standouts. They weren't note perfect, and Hutchinson's vocals were more than a little ropy, but the weight and intensity poured into "Fast Blood" and especially "The Modern Leper" was truly cathartic, and while the band themselves are doubtless sick to death of them you'd have to say they've never sounded better. Their spotlight was, of course, shared with Pedestrian Verse, which among other things produced a wonderfully self-deprecating "Nitrous Gas" and an explosive "Acts of Man," whose live fireworks are at odds with its cautious, slow-burning recorded guise.

In fairness, having spent their year plugging the new record so relentlessly, caution is a concept Frightened Rabbit have long outgrown. For all the stateside voyages, major label dealings and dates with The National, however, it was brilliant to find them aiming a fond nod back to their early days, in a show which was beautifully rounded, and satisfying by virtually every measure. The break which follows this current jaunt couldn't be more deserved.



Official website

No comments:

Post a Comment