Frightened Rabbit, We Were Promised Jetpacks, The Little Kicks
Mark Shields 18/09/2008
There is a moment tonight where everything suddenly makes sense. A dawn of realisation that shines a new light upon what Frightened Rabbit are all about, a moment that defines their style and the way that they want to be taken by their fans, and it comes from the most frustrating moment of the night. Towards the end, head Rabbit, Scott Hutchison, grabs an acoustic guitar from the side of the stage and moves closer to the crowd and starts miming a song.
It suddenly dawns that he is not miming but playing to a 400 plus crowd of assembled punters, fans, and people generally there just because they have heard the buzz, without any electric assistance - pure without microphone, or guitar playing. It is a rather special moment for those close enough to the front to hear it without interruption, but for the folks at the bar and nearest the back, talking continues and laughter fills through the air.
There are sharp glances from those at the front until the crowd descends into a captivated but deathly silence. The strumming of the guitar is soft and the vocals are straining to the notes of the song. It is an ethereal moment in the night - a quiet respite in the face of the volume of the rest of the band's material, which literally jumps off the record into the live scenario. The audience and band in such a delicate equilibrium is a sight to behold.
The rest of the night is marvellous too. Pummelling their way through fan favourites (Modern Leper and Good Arms vs. Bad Arms both stand out), Frightened Rabbit convert all non-believers with a performance that is excellent and well paced throughout. The quieter moments are balanced with fervent drumming, guitar scraping and Scottish singing at the threshold of emotion tossed wildly around the arrangement.
The crowd relish sharing banter with the band, something that so many bands seem to forget is part of the live experience. The excitement of hearing a band talk about their music to a captive audience can be highly embarrassing, but when the crowd are as fanatic as they were tonight, little can go wrong. Indeed, a welcome encore from the expectant masses caused myself to burst into fits of smiling, which is a rare happening in a concert setting.
It all boils down to the moment of madness that was trying to hush a rowdy, probably drunk crowd into near silence, with hushing noises and electric anticipation, which will be with me for a very long time. Frightened Rabbit's frontman, our high pitched oohing might have been 'shite' but you were far from it.
The worry is that these guys are on the ascendancy - better than Glasvegas, more interesting than Snow Patrol, and that if they get caught in a wind of commercial success, they won't be able to seduce a crowd into such magical silence again.
I'd like to think that they will.