Ruth's Manuvas

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My musical ramblings – gig and album reviews, music news and views

Frightened Rabbit @ Nottingham Bodega, 9th November

There is passion, emotion and aggression north of the border and by the bucket load when it comes to music. Scottish bands Galchen and Frightened Rabbit did everything to prove that old adage on Wednesday 11th November at Nottingham’s Bodega.

Eighteen months after Midnight Organ Fight’s release and just a few days prior to the arrival of their latest single, Swim Until You Can’t See Land, the indie folk quintet from Selkirk introduced new member Gordon Skene to the East Midlands. But this was no cosy welcome for the talented musician. Instead, Frightened Rabbit used their instruments to hammer home their self-grafted signpost pointing in the direction of bigger venues, bigger recognition and most of all, better things.

Galchen, a four piece post-rock, Apple Mac-indie band hailing from Glasgow, were a thoroughly impressive warm-up. They offered a lyric-less instrumental concoction full of complex changing drum rhythms, electronic percussion and stinging guitars, with a set up similar to 65daysofstatic or perhaps Explosions In The Sky.

On Frightened Rabbit’s introduction The Bodega was packed from the walls to the bar – every one armed with lyrics from the headliners’ second album.

I had seen them twice before, once to a rather more sparse crowd at Leicester’s Firebug and second at the city’s Musician venue for an entirely acoustic set. Both were as memorable and poignant as each another, both sat near the top of their respective year’s list of gigs in order of favourites. And like those other gigs, I was expecting to be kneaded, plied and rolled out across their set list of songs rather like a tree rubbing, reflecting the band’s and namely Scott Hutchinson’s emotions as they made their way through each track.  

Modern Leper was the start everyone wanted and it was what they got. “A cripple walks among you all you tired human beings, he’s got all the things a cripple has not working arms and legs” reverberated around the room, lyrics that remain some of the best and most memorable ever to start an album.

Like its lyrics, Fast Blood hurricaned through the crowd and it became clear that Gordon’s addition had added a real depth of sound that although had not been obviously lacking previously, was suddenly noticeable and all the better for it.

Blazing through a set which covered most of Midnight Organ Fight and Square 9 from first album, Sing the Greys, the Rabbits also played Nothing Like You – a fast paced and really well received track from new album The Winter of Mixed Drinks, which is due for release next May. On the evidence of the reactions to Swim Until You Can’t See Land, the latest single is clearly fast becoming a new favourite, with plenty of whooass and a catchy chorus to sing along to, plus beautifully plucked guitars and a story line about escaping.

Old Old Fashioned turned the gig into a scene akin to a Highland Fling, but it was on My Backwards Walk and a rare non-acoustic version of Poke where the hairs stood up on the back of the neck. Scott’s powerful heavily accented vocals brought the crowd to a stunned silence, as his face contorted and voice cracked from the sheer effort he put into transmitting meaning. Although Frightened Rabbit do loud, guitar laden tunes really well, it is the subtleties and nuances of these two which put the band at the forefront of the pile of similar artists looking to adopt folk indie at the moment. They also have the ability to chop and change their set up on stage whilst remaining cohesive.

Come the encore, Keep Yourself Warm was the sole choice to send the crowd home on. And with a chorus like “It takes more than fucking someone you don’t know to keep warm”, it’s never been obvious whether the track is a piece of advice or a knowing tale but its reception is always the same, leaving a hoarse-voiced, ringing-eared crowd exiting happy, having sung their hearts out.

Frightened Rabbit are undoubtedly the kings of melancholy – many of their songs are tinged with sadness and hindsight. Yet they manage to inject warmth and positivity into their audience and never fail to conduct bags of infectious Scottish passion.

Frightened Rabbit

Frightened Rabbit minus new member Gordon Skene

  •  
    1. Modern Leper
    2. Fast Blood
    3. Old Old Fashioned
    4. Good Arms vs. Bad Arms
    5. Nothing Like You
    6. Head Rolls Off
    7. The Twist
    8. My Backwards Walk
    9. Swim Until You Can’t See Land
    10. Poke
    11. Square 9
    12. Keep Yourself Warm
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2 Responses

  1. Rabbiter says:

    The best band in Scotland, probably the world. Mon the Rabbits!

    • ruthsmanuvas says:

      I just really want to see them have a bit of a breakthrough now (but not in a rubbish Razorlight/Kings of Leon kind of way). And they were too big for the Bodega in Notts!

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