This must be how it feels to wave off your eldest child on the day they move out of the family home.
The fact that this gig marked the first of two sell-out nights at the 1,900-capacity Barras meant that, on a personal level, there was a mixture of poignancy and pride in realising FRIGHTENED RABBIT are no longer my (or anyone else’s for that matter) favourite ‘wee band’.
Frightened Rabbit were one of the main reasons I started The Pop Cop in 2007, so compelled was I to do something that would allow more people to discover this remarkable Scottish band full of contradictions. Their songs were both twee and angsty, their sound accessible and melodic yet raw and (at that point) bass-less. And once those qualities had gotten your attention, the depth and intelligent wordplay of Scott Hutchison’s songwriting created an emotional pull that was impossible to resist.
Fittingly, the set begins with their very own ‘moving on’ song Things as Scott takes in his surroundings and breathlessly tells the audience, “Everything you do as a band leads to this point. Right here.” The fevered reaction to Modern Leper provokes an equally excitable suggestion of “we should just lock the doors” from a man more accustomed to self-deprecating banter, before he goes on to reminisce about watching Green Day and the Foo Fighters perform on the same legendary stage he finds himself standing on.
About half-an-hour in, Scott’s singing doesn’t quite seem to be hitting the spot, possibly a byproduct of the vocal problems that forced the cancellation of some of the band’s earlier tour dates. He sounds raspy on I Feel Better and the sluggish tempo of The Wrestle does the band no favours either. However, any fears are soon dispelled by a roaring version of My Backwards Walk, which draws the noisiest response of the night.
Be Less Rude is a welcome nod to their early years, dedicated to Marcus Mackay and his wife, who originally recorded and released Frightened Rabbit’s debut album Sing The Greys, while Good Arms vs Bad Arms is nothing short of magical with Scott performing it without his four bandmates, albeit helped by the vocal backing of a couple of thousand. A touching sense of triumph was the overriding emotion that filled the air for the majority of their set.
On a freezing night in Glasgow, the mood of the hundreds of fans who were still singing the “oh-woah-oh-oh-ohs” of The Loneliness & The Scream long after the band had waved goodbye is probably best summed up by their sex-rock anthem Keep Yourself Warm and its lyrics of “it takes more than fucking someone you don’t know to keep yourself warm”… 90 minutes in the presence of Frightened Rabbit does the job just as well.
Special mention must also go to support band Admiral Fallow, whose brief but profoundly convincing set of folk-rock proved beyond any doubt they are up to the job of being Scottish music’s heroes-in-waiting. Frightened Rabbit may have flown the nest but it’s comforting to know they’re far from the only guys in town worth boasting about to your friends.
Frightened Rabbit – Go Go Girls
Admiral Fallow – Four Bulbs (Radio 2 session)