Gig Review: Frightened Rabbit @ The Night & Day Café, Manchester, 5th April 2008

Having moaned about them cancelling their support slot at the Night & Day with MGMT last month, it was great to see Frightened Rabbit remedy the situation with a headline appearance at the same venue on Saturday night. Not that it felt much like they were the headline act thanks to local band The Bottomfeeders, who brought a healthy contingent of friends and family to watch their supporting set, most of whom sloped off home long before Frightened Rabbit took to the stage, leaving a disappointingly small number of punters to cheer them on.

The Bottomfeeders @ The Night & Day CafeFortunately, The Bottomfeeders were highly entertaining and good enough to suggest that perhaps some of their gathered throng were actual fans, rather than mums, dads and colleagues. There was something quite theatrical about them, with a line-up that included a (faux?) Japanese bass player who also played the musical saw, a cellist, a trombone player in dungarees and a lead singer in a spangly dress who was somewhere in between Courtney Love and Beth Ditto – if you could ignore the thick manc accent. With such an array of instruments at their disposal, and the lead singer’s excellent vocals, the songs straddled a wide range of musical styles, occasionally defying categorisation, occasionally sounding like direct rip-offs (“Loretta” could have been lifted straight off PJ Harvey’s To Bring You My Love). There was also a rich vein of wacky humour running through much of the material with some songs straying dangerously close to novelty territory. I’m not sure if they’d stand up to repeated listens but they were great fun, nonetheless.

Frightened Rabbit @ The Night & Day CafeMost of their fans were daft enough to leave immediately after their set, or retire to the bar to chat loudly, leaving a handful of us to bask in the glory of the really, rather brilliant Frightened Rabbit. They’ve bulked up to a four piece since I last saw them, but rather than employ a bass player they’ve opted for another guitarist, which is great news as the sight and sound of three Telecasters churning away at the front of the stage while scary drummer Grant Hutchison beats the shit out of his drums at the back was terrific. The early part of the set was weighted towards songs off the new album, The Midnight Organ Fight, which has hardly been out of my CD player for the past two weeks. The likes of “The Modern Leper”, which opened proceedings, and album highlight “Fast Blood” were played with a searing intensity that sent shivers down the spine. Unperturbed the disappointing turnout, singer Scott Hutchison was really giving it everything, obviously excited about playing the new material but also making sure that the Sing The Greys stuff sounded just as fresh. “Be Less Rude” positively bounced along while “Go Go Girls”, with its irresistible “Shocker In Gloomtown” riff, sounded like the album version with an electric cattle prod rammed up its arse.

They ended with “The Greys” segueing effortlessly into “Square 9” to create a sweaty eight minute epic, and were gone after a brief set of ten songs or so, to a paltry smattering of applause. I see this gig as a mere taster of what’s to come from Frightened Rabbit in 2008. When the album comes out and word gets around they’ll easily be selling out venues of this size by the Autumn. Can’t wait.

The setlist, if I recall, went something like this:

The Modern Leper
I Feel Better
Be Less Rude
Fast Blood
Old Old Fashioned
Heads Roll Off
Music Now
Go Go Girls
The Greys
Square 9

Frightened Rabbit – Heads Roll Off

Frightened Rabbit – Be Less Rude

6 Responses to “Gig Review: Frightened Rabbit @ The Night & Day Café, Manchester, 5th April 2008”

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