Tuesday, April 17, 2012
A YEAR IN THE LIFE OF GIGS : WEEK 15 : YOU JUST CAN'T BEAT THIS VIEW........
REVIEW OF FRIGHTENED RABBIT/I AM DAVID LAING, CAFE CONTINENTAL, GOUROCK - 11 APRIL
I really wish I'd taken the camera along with me.
Gourock is a small town some 25 miles west of Glasgow. It sites at the head of the Firth of Clyde and with islands and steep hills all in close range can provide the most spectacular of scenery as indeed it did the night Aldo and myself rolled along to catch Frightened Rabbit on the first night of a short Scottish tour that was going to take them to some remote venues.
It was literally a last minute thing that we picked up tickets for the gig so we didn't have much time to build up any anticipation or excitement. We took the train out of Glasgow and 45 minutes later arrived in Gourock. We went on a short pub crawl ending up in the splendour of the Victoria Bar, the sort of brilliant pub that other than the odd lick of paint hasn't changed much in 60 or 70 years. Then it was over to the Cafe Continental in time to get to get a good spot down near the stage. The first thing that hits you, apart from the small size of the venue is the view looking out behind the stage. It is surrounded on three sides by high windows which look out onto the water and hills beyond. There was also a spectacular sunset which bathed the town with a fantastic red glow. It felt as if we were in the middle of a TV advert for the Scottish Tourist Board.
Support came from a local singer/songwriter who goes by the moniker of I Am David Laing. And by local, I mean he is from Gourock....
It sort of filled us both with dread that someone perhaps cheap and cheerful had been added to the bill to provide some sort of support and we had low expectations. But the young man turned out to be very good at what he does. It's just him and his acoustic and he tells us that 90% of his songs are about trying but failing to get the girl. He grafts very hard for the entire 30 minutes he was on stage, battling hard to make himself heard above the shrill shrieking of young ladies who quite clearly cant wait for the main act to come on and the bellowing of young men shouting and laughing with their mates over loads of beers. It's wholly unfair of the audience to be so rude, but the small number of us who pay attention enjoy David's performance. You can head over here and listen to some of his songs. Particularly recommended if you were or are still a fan of Del Amitri (that means you wee brother!!!!).
It's been a few years since I last caught Frightened Rabbit on stage. I was lucky enough to see them play lots of small shows in Glasgow in 2008 when they were about to release Midnight Organ Fight. Since then, they've grown immensely in popularity and got themselves a move to a major label thanks in part to excellent songs but also the fact that they have always been an impressive live act.
On the evidence of this acoustic show, nothing has changed other than they now have an audience that knows every word to most of the old songs and likes to sing along at the top of their voices. It wasn't like this in the days when they played Mono......
The set is drawn largely from Midnight Organ Fight. It is these songs, along with the with the singles from the 2010 LP Winter Of Mixed Drinks LP, which get the loudest cheers of the night. There's also a couple of new songs and some really old stuff played:-
Old Old Fashioned
Nothing Like You
The Modern Leper
I Feel Better
Good Arms vs Bad Arms
Swim Until You Can't See Land
My Backwards Walk
Living In Colour
The Loneliness And The Scream
Keep Yourself Warm
My personal highlight on the night was Music Now in which for the first time I realised how much the backing vocals of Grant Hutchison add so much to his brother's lead vocals. The first new song, Oil Slick, was impossible to make out because, in a return to the behaviour during the support act, all you could make out was the yakking...very few were seemingly interested in listening to stuff they don't know...they'd much rather talk about Eastenders and how fucking amazing the imported bottle beer is in this place.
The audience did at least pay a bit of attention during Boxing Night, the second of the new songs, probably because Scott gave a detailed monologue about how the song came to be written and what it was all about...which is basically sitting around in his flat the day after Xmas wearing only his underwear, drinking beer and listening to Billy Joel. Despite such a gloomy scenario and storyboard, the song sounded great!!!
Oh and the only reason I know the names of the two new songs is that straight after I asked Andy and Gordon from the band as they began the process of clearing the stage. There's still no 'billy big time' about the members of Frightened Rabbit as evidenced by their willingness to talk to anyone interested in striking up a conversation and also from Scott joining the punters in the main bar after he had got changed out of his sweaty stage clothes and happily posing for all sorts of photos.
Then it was the 11.20 train back to Glasgow....a journey on which we were joined by loads of fans, 99% of whom seemed to be young enough to be my son or daughter.
All in all, a night we were glad to be a part of, especially again to see the band at such close quarters. But it was spoilt a small bit by the impolite members of the audience.
mp3 : Frightened Rabbit - Music Now (live at Urban Outfitters, SXSW, 2007)
(we were just behind the and to the side of the person who made this lovely bit of footage).
JC, Tuesday 17 April 2012