Frightened Rabbit, Airship
Tiffany Daniels 05/03/2010
Having successfully navigated around Manchester central, my friend and I trundle into the city's cosmopolitan and student area; Oxford Road is so littered with undiscovered pubs and bars that it doesn't take us long to find an independent hub of quarrelling friends and a table ridden with the stench of dried larger. It's a charming start to what will prove to be a fantastic evening.
The venue quickly fills out with avid fans and new faces alike; a few discuss “who this band are anyway?” and whether they have a debut album out yet. Despite the discrepancy in devotion, there's a sense of anticipation in the air that I haven't experienced since my heady teenage days - this isn't an arena, but with the atmosphere in mind, it might as well be.
The support act, Airship, have certainly garnered a local following. The audience assemble at the foot of the stage to listen to and enjoy what is essentially a medley of plagiarism: each song replicates an indie dance floor filler - from Yeah Yeah Yeah's Maps, to Interpol's Evil, to The Shins' Caring is Creepy. It seems perverse than any musician can get away with such blatant copycat behaviour, while still enjoying a plentiful fanbase. I don't know whether to put this down to indifference or ignorance, but either way, I'm not impressed and skulk off to the bar.
In comparison to their handpicked support, Frightened Rabbit radiate originality. Third album The Winter of Mixed Drinks has been criticised as “off-track” and lacking in pounding drive and heartache; something that both plagues and cements the Rabbit's previous material. However, live the songs translate into a world of overpowering guitar and frantic, glorious rebellion, particularly during their rendition of single “Swim Until You Can't See Land”. Most importantly, there is a consistent and coherent message; fuck the bad times, you've always got Frightened Rabbit. Established favourites “Heads Roll Off” and “My Backwards Walk” have the crowd erupt in hysterical rejoice and the occasional out of tune melody, and frontman Scott Hutchinson proves Liver! Lung! FR! was not a fluke as his vocals drill every word into the room with an unfounded passion.
Tonight Selkirk's finest confirm their superiority in more ways than one: you may already be aware of their musical genius, but if you have yet to attend one of their gigs, you won't know that they have the ability to fill the world, never mind a venue, with hope. As Scott takes to the stage for an encore, I can't help but playfully punch my friend to the opening chords of “Poke” - until that point, it was the only possible factor missing from the set. Absolutely, totally and inarguably one of the most accomplished gigs I have ever witnessed.