Frightened Rabbit absolutely destroyed the Cradle last night; a sold out crowd hung on every word that frontman Scott Hutchison — in a particularly cheerful, gregarious mood — said, and those moments when the crowd’s collective voice rose up over the band in chorus, those are the moments that give me shivers. I was in the midst of the crowd when it happened during “Old Old Fashioned”, and at the back during the fierce lines at the end of “My Backwards Walk”: you’re the shit and I’m knee deep in it, you’re the shit and I’m knee deep in it. They were both hugely resonant, sticking in that spot right under my ribs, between my heart and my soul.
I had a chance to chat with Scott and Grant a bit between soundcheck and show — more on that tomorrow — and I was just left with such a feeling of passion, professionalism, cleverness from both of them, and the band reflected by them. It wasn’t more clear than during second to last song “Living In Colour”, where Scott rasped out the half-chanted lyrics at a pace that almost felt like the song was about to go off the rails, at any moment, while Grant, calmly, behind the drums, kept the entire song pitching joyfully, fiercely forward. Pitching joyfully, fiercely forward: that’s Frightened Rabbit in one phrase, right there, and it was such last night, and it shall continue to be such.
Set list (as per set list given to me by adorable ginger FR tour manager Ian): Holy / The Modern Leper / Old Old Fashioned / Late March Death March / December’s Traditions / Nothing Like You / Backyard Skulls / Head Rolls Off / The Oil Slick / My Backwards Walk / State Hospital / Poke / Good Arms vs. Bad Arms / Swim Until You Can’t See Land / Acts Of Man // The Woodpile / Living In Colour / The Loneliness And The Scream
[An iPad is not an appropriate concert camera, and the next time I see anyone take more than a single photo with an iPad at a show, I am going to take their iPad, and then I will have an iPad, and I won’t have to spend my own money on one. This plan is flawless except for probably the bit where I get arrested. This is also my sole aside about last night’s photographers, except for Tiny Photographer In Front Of Me With The Canon That Weighed More Than Her: your shots looked amazing, so if you find me, please email, I’d love to see them.]
I really, really need someone to help me figure out how, exactly, in English, to rave about Wintersleep, who remain staggeringly phenomenal. You know that bit in The Time-Traveler’s Wife where Clare describes her work as “big and … about birds”? I describe Wintersleep to people as “big … and about Nova Scotia … and, okay, I’m probably going to cry, so don’t worry when I cry over this song about a ghost, okay?” But that’s how I feel about Wintersleep. In 2011, they saved my life by playing a show at Kings where they nearly blew the windows out onto Martin Street from the density and wildness (and, well, loudness). It was so huge and epic that it just wiped everything bad and angry and sad in my chest — and that June was a bad June — right out. Yesterday I wasn’t sad or angry, but they still raised up my heart in joy; their lyrics, the rhythmic gorgeous repetition of them, the way that frontman Paul Murphy’s vocals are as much part of the music as the instruments. It was a gorgeous set, full of the best from last year’s stellar Hello Hum, and my old favorites. I am so, so glad that they’re getting exposure with Frightened Rabbit, because they’re brilliant, and lovely people to boot, and they deserve to be famous and have sandwiches whenever they want.*
* This is an old, old Brian Fallon metaphor for “doing pretty well, but I’m totally not Stephen Tyler yet, stop asking”. I can have sandwiches any time I want. Remains one of the funniest bits of stage banter I’ve ever heard.
So yes. This was a good show. It made my soul and my heart and my brain happy.
Full photo set is here.