Gig Review: Frightened Rabbit

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Scott belting it out right from the off

Who: Frightened Rabbit

Where: The Corner Hotel, Melbourne

When: May 8th 2013

Having only been turned onto the world of Frightened Rabbit in the second half of 2011, I’d consider myself a bit of a wee latecomer. They did support Modest Mouse in Dublin the year previously, but I’d spent too long in the bar next door, prior to the headliners kicking off! However since our belated introduction, they’ve been a constant mainstay in my eardrums. To me there are a couple of resemblance’s to that of The National. In that vocalist and lyricist Scott Hutchinson, is renowned for penning fairly downtrodden and melancholic songs, yet the band continue to somehow, transform these songs into painstakingly sing-along anthems. The other comparison being that they have continued to amass an ever growing following, with each new release garnering more positive reviews than the last, with this years 4th full length record ‘Pedestrian Verse’ being no exception.

My inability to keep time very well, led me to miss fellow Scot’s Admiral Fallow opening slot, however as they are now on my radar, I shall be checking them out as soon as possible. The crowd are pretty well jammed together by the time Frightened Rabbit take to the stage, as the sold out signs here in The Corner went up quite some time ago. Luckily for me I’ve got a decent enough view, as all five members take up their respective positions – Grant Hutchinson on drums, Andy Monaghan on guitar, Bill Kennedy on bass/guitar and Gordan Skene on keys/guitar – around the aforementioned Scott Hutchinson. Throughout the night an unnamed sixth musician takes his place, partially hidden to some, to the far left of the stage, and helps out on some of the newer numbers by playing keys and guitar.

Skene the multi-tasker

The opening chords of “Holy” from ‘Pedestrian Verse’, kick off this evenings proceedings, with the crowd immediately relaying the lyrics back and moving in time with the fast paced track. It will be the first of eight new numbers the band airs tonight, with the audience being more than happy to lap them up. One of the many highlights of tonight was second number “The Modern Leper” – coincidentally this was the first Frightened Rabbit track I’d ever heard – which led to a mass sing song from all in attendance. From the off it was quite evident the crowd were up for it, especially during follow up number “Old Old Fashioned”. It was a point that was alluded to by Scott, when he mentioned that although tonight was their second consecutive night playing the venue, it was in fact the original date advertised for this tour and with it selling out so fast, he reckoned, with a rye smile, the real fans were in fact all here. This of course got a rapturous response.

A double helping of new tracks “Late March, Death March” and “December’s Traditions” followed suit, as the band prove, that even with these latest offerings, they are a tight knit collective live.  The array of guitars that are on show sound big, yet they still allow for Grant Hutchinson’s thunderous drum beat to be heard, whilst all the while Scott’s vocals are never lost in the mix throughout. A fair bit of crowd banter happens throughout, with Scott relaying a story of how two Scottish girls managed to get kicked out before they even started the previous night, and then challenged anyone here to drink along every time he cursed, which if anyone had done so, I’m sure they would’ve been rushed off in an ambulance! The group as a whole seem very comfortable on stage over the course of the show,and if Scott is more the shy, retiring type, a la Matt Berninger from The National, then he is no way shows it tonight.

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A Solo Scott

The pace picks up with “Nothing Like You”, which is the first to be played from their pervious record ‘The Winter of Mixed Drinks’ and with the first line of the chorus “she was not the cure for cancer…” being bellowed back loudly, it was obvious the older tunes are treasured just as much by those in attendance. A resounding rendition of “Oil Slick” is sandwiched in between “Fast Blood” and “My Backwards Walk” from 2008’s ‘The Midnight Organ Fight’, an album that is pretty damn close to being on par with this year’s ‘Pedestrian Verse’. It was now time for the band to leave Scott standing centre stage accompanied only by an acoustic guitar, as he took on both “State Hospital” and “Poke”, with only the latter of the two are acoustic based on record. However these solo versions are quite poignant moments performances, and the now hushed audience members, are in the palm of Scott’s hand, until the final note of “Poke” fades off.

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The Rabbit’s in full flight

The remaining members then return for a blistering take on “Good Arms vs. Bad Arms”. Next up included a raucous run through “Swim Until You Can’t See Land” – which included some impressive crowd participation in the form of duplicating the missing accordion sound – partnered alongside “Acts of Man” finish off the main set in a hive of intense yet beautiful post-rock noise. A triple whammy of songs that any band would be proud to put their name to, and ones that tonight, particularly the latter of the three, were performed with high octane intensity, by a band quite evidently enjoying their night. After a brief yet much needed break, the full compliment once again entered the fray, and stormed through an epic “Woodpile”, which had the sweaty masses, for what must have been for the umpteenth time, emptying their lungs in utter pleasure. Alas the night had to come to an end, and following on from “Living In Colour” they finally finish up and bid farewell with quite an astounding  rendition of “The Loneliness and the Scream”. I think after tonights performance, the mutual love and respect between Frightened Rabbit and its Melbournian audience was cemented in (paving) stone for along time to come.

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