If, by now, you haven’t picked up on the secular themes of Frightened Rabbit’s artwork and lyrical references then here it is spelled out in the wonderfully coarse surroundings of the Barrowland Ballroom, the musicians providing a foreground to a glut of (ironic) religion-influenced symbolism. How else to explain why Grant Hutchison’s incessantly vigorous and imaginative drumming actions should cast shadows on a backdrop that resembles a giant bishop’s hat?
Two verses in, and his older brother Scott is referencing the “New Testament” to the bass-driven bombast of Holy, spitting lines about “fake benevolence” and quipping very deliberately between songs, “So it didn’t fucking snow… thank the Lord” – a nod to the apocalyptic weather that wreaked havoc with their back-to-back shows at this same venue in December 2010.
This time they’re in town for one night only, and you’re left in no doubt that everyone in possession of a ticket is delirious to be here, something Scott repeatedly acknowledges having watched the popularity of the band he created a decade ago outgrow the ‘cult following’ tag they held pre-major label, pre-Radio 1 support, pre-top 10 album.
The tempo rarely relents as the band hare through favourites from albums No.2 and No.3 (debut Sing The Greys seems to have been consigned to history), the live sound augmented by a sixth stage presence in Olympic Swimmers’ Simon Liddell, who hits an electronic drum pad and plays additional guitar on several Pedestrian Verse songs.
The sell-out crowd’s response is equal to the tireless energy of Nothing Like You and Living In Colour, while anything played from The Midnight Organ Fight immediately turns into a 2,000-strong chant including, of course, Head Rolls Off’s most famous of atheist opening gambits: “Jesus is just a Spanish boy’s name / How come one man got so much fame?”
The moment this gig will forever be remembered, though, comes not from the stage but the audience, as Scott’s solo acoustic rendition of Poke is followed by a crescendo of hysterical whooping and footstomps that spontaneously gets louder and louder and louder. Minutes pass. Scott takes a step back, taken aback. His voice crackling with emotion, he finally manages to utter a response: “I think I just cried a little bit there.” I doubt he was the only one.