“We are so pleased to be back,” says frontman Scott Hutchinson with a sense of relief. He might be a long way from Selkirk, but Frightened Rabbit’s critically acclaimed second album, ‘The Midnight Organ Fight’ rose prominently via Brighton’s own Fat Cat Records in 2008. So, five years down the road, where are they now?
Having moved to Atlantic Records, the band released their fourth album ‘Pedestrian Verse’ at the start of Feb. With a new keyboardist onboard and the renowned producer Leo Abrahams behind the scenes, the album presents a snappier version of the band’s indie folk sound. In fact, the new stuff almost makes the rest seem dreary by comparison.
Tonight ‘Pedestrian Verse’ takes centre stage – they dive into ‘Holy’, a galloping track united by fierce drum work, catchy linear basslines and the guitars’ melodic prodding. Scott’s glorious howl rings out through the Concorde to the delight of many onlookers.
However, it’s not long before they dig deep into the archives, resuming where they left off with ‘Old Old Fashioned’ from ‘The Midnight Organ Fight’. Beforehand, Scott muses on what Frightened Rabbit have made of themselves, having met a lovely couple who said they’ve become a band of “heartache and breakup”. And we agree. So they deliver to rapturous applause – “you twisted fuckers” he says with a sly smile.
After an onslaught of new tracks beginning with ‘Late March, Death March’, ‘December’s Traditions’ and ‘Backyard Skulls’ they pay their respect to Fat Cat with ‘Heads Roll Off’. All this lovely gratuitous respect seems in jest and before we know it they need a human accordion – “we forgot ours” – he says and we drink to that before relishing the task. The first attempt is worse than Birmingham apparently, “C’mon don’t put your city to shame… you’re all from fucking London anyway!” It’s tongue in cheek but we reap the rewards as they play us out with ‘Things’ from 2010’s ‘The Winter Of Mixed Drinks’.
They’ve created popular demand for emotionally twisting songwriting but it’s easy to see the new direction Abrahams has given the band. It’s no longer Scott’s perception of escapism, but more a defined take on relationships with each line reluctantly offering apology or forgiveness.
Concorde2, Tuesday 12th February 2013
Words by Gavin Hughes
Photos by Mike Tudor @ Studio85