Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Gig Review - Frightened Rabbit @ Queen's Hall, Dunoon

It's not often that I get to go on a boat.  Nor is it often that I get the chance to see feert small mammal emulators Frightened Rabbit for free.  And I've NEVER been to Dunoon before either.  So the coming together of all these events is some kind of cataclysmic event which can only harbour certain doom and destruction for the planet as we know it.  Given how good this evening was though, I'm saying it'll be worth it.

The whole affair was almost like a great big day out for me and hanger-on Marc.  As we disembarked the ferry we overhead one other, local I'm presuming, gig goer remark, "these indie-type city kids just lap up this type of thing".  True enough.  There was the almost inevitable getting lost in Dunoon as we searched for the Queen's Hall, the eerie feeling of feeling we've been transported back to the 1970's (The Queen's Hall was an incredibly kitsch novelty), and even fish and chips eaten hastily on the band stand.

Offered the enviable position of supporting Frightened Rabbit and opening proceedings were local boys The King Hats.  We've featured The King Hats on the blog a few times, most recently on our 'We're Only Here For The Banter' feature and Carlo's appearance in the WWF Cup, so it was good to finally be able to catch the lads live.  Their EP 'First Light' is bursting with post-punk tunes, offering a good ol' stomp and head bang when listening too.  Sadly, due to being a complete tourist and getting lost, I only managed to catch the last two tracks for their set.  Happily enough though one of those tracks was the excellent 'Happy New Year', performed with such gusto and passion from singer Alan Power's roaring vocals, to drummer Carlo Acosta's thrashing snare and high hats.  Keeping things close to home, and cleverly getting a cheer from the local crowd, many of who bore King Hats t-shirts, the band revealed the origins of their closing track which was written on a bench just outside the venue.  And with an all mighty climax that was that.

Following on from The King Hats were FRabbits touring partners Brazil Exists, who had followed the Selkirk band round their merry highlands and islands jaunt.  I had never much doubted the existence of the largest South American country, however given my interest in geography is minimal I'm glad that the Stirling 5-piece have affirmed this.  Other than the name, I hadn't heard Brazil Exists before tonight, and I have to say they have intrigued me enough to give their EP 'The Hermit' a listen (produced by none other than FRabbit's Andy Monaghan).   Their set was melodic, warm and had a certain hint of Teenage Fanclub (although maybe that's just me).  Most memorable was Jack Black look-a-like trumpet player Michael Reade who added that extra brassy oomph.

Arriving on stage to a rapturous applause, Frightened Rabbit ripped straight into 'Nothing Like You' off their most recent album 'The Winter Of Mixed Drinks'.  It would be from this album and seminal release 'The Midnight Organ Fight' that the majority of their set would be taken from.  Wasting no time in bringing out the big guns they blasted through 'The Modern Leper' before dedicating 'Old Old Fashioned' to lead crooner Scott Hutchinson's "average sized penis".  The band genuinely seemed pleased to be playing in smaller and more rural venues such as this and encouraged us to share in the happiness by dancing to 'The Twist'. 

After 'The Wrestle' came an announcement greeted with such excitement I honestly suspect a few people wet themselves.  FRabbit will be heading into the studio next week to begin recording their fourth album.  Canny wait!   And we didn't have to wait, as a few new tracks were given an outing including 'The Oil Escape' and an untitled track which featured a fair bit of synth.

Personal favourite 'My Backwards Walk' (incidentally also my 5 year old daughter's favourite song) was played with intimacy and beauty, before a crowd led intro of 'aaaaaaah' led us into 'Swim Until You Can't See Land'.  Another rare-ish track 'Scottish Winds', which comes from the recently released 'Frightened Rabbit EP' propped up the rip roaring stomp that is 'Living In Colour'.

Stood alone and acoustic, Hutchison treats us to 'Poke' whilst the rest of the band grab a well deserved rest.  None earned it more than drummer Grant Hutchison who powered his way through the set with the intensity of a man with a firework up his arse.  'Good Arms Vs Bad Arms' and 'The Loneliness And The Scream' led us sadly towards the encore and the end.

Even though the song relates to events many years ago, and was released near enough four years ago, the sheer emotion and hurt that pours out of Hutchison whilst performing 'Keep Yourself Warm' is incredible.  It's truly a spin tingling moment and the chorus of "it takes more than fucking someone to keep yourself warm" resonates with young broken hearted fans through the room.

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