herald

Sunday 23 September 2018

Moody rockers show no fear

MOODY: Frightened Rabbit
MOODY: Frightened Rabbit

POOR Scott Hutchison. Two minutes into Frightened Rabbit's first number and something has gone wrong. "That was an interesting start to the show," he remarks.

Indeed, there are gremlins afoot. The band's bearded front man tries to make light of it, playing about with an acoustic guitar while the roadies see to some blasted technical difficulties.

Twice, he and his cohorts attempt a restart, but it's not happening. His brother Grant (the drummer) decides that the only way to resolve the issue is to leave and come back. No use standing around like rabbits caught in headlights.

It's a smart move. Eventually, we get going again, and this time, there are no bumps on the road. More moody rock 'n' roll than electric folk, it's been a busy year for the Scottish quintet. On the go since 2003, but only now coming to the attention of the wider-listening public, Frightened Rabbit's fourth album Pedestrian Verse was a top-10 hit. So, the venues are now bigger. Scott even made headlines over a few derogatory comments regarding Mumford & Sons (he slagged them off ... who hasn't?).

magnificent

Tales of love and heartache encapsulate tonight's performance. Scott's vocal – a magnificent tool that holds on tight to a gorgeous accent – takes a back seat to the abrasive guitar swirls.

True, there are probably too many six-string players on stage, but when the noise and distortion culminates in such genuinely fantastic moments of stadium-prepared rock (Nothing Like You, Acts of Man), it hardly seems a problem.

Meanwhile, Billy Kennedy remembers to treat his bass like a proper instrument. Which always helps.

Another acoustic set arrives in the second half (this one was planned). Scott also performs Floating in the Forth without a microphone. Apparently, the former art student used to suffer from shyness (hence, the band's name). It doesn't show. Though let's just say that you can always count on an Irish audience to make a racket. Even when they're not supposed to. Scott simply raises his whiskey and smiles. He's in good company tonight.

His brother plays like a man possessed, while those on the floor swap instruments and provide a lush, near-hypnotic backdrop to Scott's fuzzy lead.

It's a strong display from a band on the edge of greatness. And we got the longest set of the tour, too. Hurrah.

****

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