Tuesday 7th February 2017 – Limelight 1, Belfast
It’s still relatively early in the evening when at 8.15pm Selkirk’s finest, Frightened Rabbit take to the stage at The Limelight for their first headline Belfast Show.
Having released five studio albums to date they have a large back catalogue to choose from, more than most bands who play in Belfast these days, and gave a flavour of a career spanning some 13 years to a packed house.
Opening with ‘Get Out’ from their most recent long player Painting of a Panic Attack, a slow keyboard intro burst into life at the first chorus and that was it. The night was off to a flyer. No warming up through the first few tunes, Frightened Rabbit knew what an enthusiastic Belfast crowd wanted, and they delivered. From this reviewer’s perspective ‘Get Out’ is the stand out tune on the new album and I wondered was it going to be a gamble playing it so early. The gamble paid off as it got the crowd going right from the off.
There is a hint of anger about bands from Scotland which is probably why they are loved so much by those of us in Northern Ireland. We empathise with them as the anger flows in the form of banter with their audience and it’s always a pleasure to see bands that blatantly enjoy a positive interaction with their fans.
The song ‘Holy’ has a huge thumping bass drum, too huge maybe as the overall sound was a little heavy early on, but it produced one of a large number of sing-alongs from what was a very, very receptive and knowledgeable audience.
There is a bagpipe feel to some of the guitar sounds which is a doff of the bands Tam o’ Shanter to their proud Scottish roots and is further emphasised by lead singer Scott Hutchinson’s thick Scottish accent coming through when he spits out words of misery that ring through many of their songs. He states at one point “we’ll play this happy song then it’s back to the misery”. The band claims to only have five happy songs so misery obviously makes for a good track, and this set is full of them
‘Heads Roll Off’ taken from the album The Midnight Organ Fight is another anthemic sing along and the big tunes just keep on coming. ‘Nothing Like You’ is huge, loud and bouncing and sits comfortably alongside their Scottish counterparts Biffy Clyro. Listening to Frightened Rabbit, it’s a wall of sound, guitars in particular, but it’s more than just that as it’s a collection of well-crafted songs about hurt, angst, love, hate and life.
It’s one of those gigs that just passes in the blink of an eye and this, in a somewhat twisted way, is what you want from a show. ‘Lump Street’ has the heavy bassline, so dark it could be pitch black, builds to a massive crescendo, then it’s done. They leave the stage but this band love this Belfast crowd so much you know they are coming back for not just one but two encores.
They return with ‘Death Dream’ the opening track from their latest album, and it just lifts you up and carries you along with its meandering riff and feel. ‘The Woodpile’ builds and builds to a massive noise and before you know it the band have departed the stage for a second time.
They do come back on for one final song. ‘Keep Yourself Warm’ is a love song…………….. well in truth I’ll leave you to check out the lyrics and judge that for yourself.
Frightened Rabbit, even after some 13 years and 5 studio albums can only get bigger on the strength of what this Belfast audience witnessed tonight. I for one was glad I was here to see it.