The Fratellis - Live Review
A 15 year old me shat a brick when the MR listing had The Fratellis thrown onto it. With 'Costello Music' being one of those albums that makes the schoolchild in you last forever, triggered whenever tracks like 'Henrietta', 'Baby Fratelli' or... that 'duhduhduh' one pop up at the party, or in the background of Hollyoaks or wherever they still pop up. It's undebatable that this band were a massive influence on me and so many more of the Skins-core/Reem/appleLOL generation in their breakthrough, and I looked forward to catch up with their sounds, wondering whether they still managed to utilize 'badaba's' and 'duh duh duhs' to their full potential and decided to brave blizzard conditions to catch them at the Academy 2 this past week after their recent release 'Eyes Wide, Tongue tied' in August.
The night opened with The Crookes. Now if you're after innovative, fresh indie rock... steer clear of this band. Rehashing ideas tired out by Elvis Costello, Vampire Weekend and The Vaccines, but without the clarity, originality or general entertainment value. This isn't to say however they were poor at what they did... but what they do can be quite underwhelming, struggling to move anyone in the audience over the age of 16 much passed changing crossed arms. I Wanna Waste My Time... was probably the highlight of their set, But the odd thumping bass line and catchy chorus was no substitute for a entertainment value and genuine performance. Whether it was bland, rehashed indie rock using guitar tones abandoned in New York around 2007, or just a case of the wrong guy covering this show... providing a slow start to the evening.
Now The Fratellis. As I said, as boyhood heroes I was wildly anticipating their arrival, yet dreading it too. Fratelli folklore says that as much as you may get a life affirming performance, confirming teenage you was just right all along. However, there have been tales of them being.... a little bit lacklustre to say the least in recent performances.
A grin on my face appeared, as the lights dimmed and Offenbach's Orphee Aux Enfers blared through the sound system as the guys took the stage. The next hour and a half or so was a smorgasbord of old and new Fratellis tracks. Opening with Baby Don't You Lie To Me, and officially starting the party with Henrietta second, the hooks, harmonies and general nostalgia and excitement was still there in the tracks, although as the set went on, vocalist and guitarist Jon Fratelli seemed to get a bit bored. Or distracted. Or maybe just tired. Regardless the band continued on with the range of tracks, and I loved the fact that the majority of the set was Costello Music tracks, as to be honest the newer tracks sound a tad manufactured and uninspired compared to songs like Got Ma Nuts From A Hippy, Flathead and Baby Fratelli which just leave me with the urge to get pissed in parks again (I didn't... Whitworth is terrifying). The piano based pop edged tracks off the latter albums including Eyes Wide, Tongue Tied were a little underwhelming with no real highlights that stick out in the mind, kind of reminding me just how much time passed since The Fratellis first hit my ears... but when those early tracks hit and the energy re-appeared, it was kind of worth the wait between. After a set of throwbacks, charming mistakes and catching up with the bands works, the encore came, as did Chelsea Dagger, and in this a flurry of flying pints and wayward bodies in one of the highlights of the night, and finishing on an overall high note, despite not being the last song and a good chunk of the audience missing the final track (a cover of Dions Runaround Sue)... and although an underwhelming choice for a last track, it could have gone far far worse. Seeing and hearing the band updated was a bit of a shock, and showed that they aren’t Baby Fratellis themselves anymore.
Words: Greg Dixon | Photos: Cai Dixon