Ten years after its release, Frightened Rabbit went back on the road with Midnight Organ Fight, their second studio album that’s so emotionally raw, it practically bleeds onto your record player and drips fresh red from your headphones. Written by frontman and songwriter Scott Hutchinson about his then break up, the 2008 record was critically celebrated, earning the Glasgow five-piece recognition as a musically adept, eardrum shattering, lyrically masterful band well worth buying records from. FR acknowledges this as a benchmark time in the band’s life – Scott thanked the crowd at Glasgow’s 02 ABC, saying, “All this, it’s thanks to you. Thank you for buying this record, for being involved, and for believing in us.”
Glasgow on March 17 delivered a bitterly cold night as part of the UK’s recent generous, out-of-season snowfalls. I literally warmed up at nearby at the brilliant boozer The Laurieston before the gig, enjoying a few single malts squashed up against a couple of hundred other Frabbits fans, plus regulars sat on stools near the bar, who would have been there regardless of viindie-popaswegian or indie pop royalty being in town. Peeling ourselves from buzzy warmth back into the snow and swirling winds, my gig partner and I walked the couple of hundred yards down Sauchiehall Street to the lovely looking venue that was built in 1875 and whose uses have included a cinema and ice skating palace over the years. Tonight, it was a sold out gig venue, hosting what felt like its 1,300 capacity and then some.
Anticipation frothed like a shaken can of Tennents Super. Ten deep at the bar and twenty-five deep at the cloakroom queue, we waded through as much of the standing crowd as was polite to find our spot, carrying our coats and abstaining from booze in the interests of not missing any of the performance. And, what a performance. Bursting straight into ‘Living With Colour’, ‘Holy’, ‘Swim Until You Can’t See Land’, and ‘I Wish I Was Sober’, Frightened Rabbit reminded us that since 2008, they’ve created four or more albums that we love, with lyrics that have permanently climbed into our brain’s limbic parts.
The Frabbits played us all the magic seeds that bloomed into this anniversary tour, launching into ‘The Modern Leper’ right through to ‘Who’d You Kill Now’, even including the instrumental interludes of ‘Bright Pink Bookmark’ and ‘Extrasupervery’. Stomping, upbeat ‘Old Old Fashioned’ and poignant ‘Poke’ were standouts for me, Scott breaking our hearts handing over Scottish accented poetry like ‘You should look through some old photos / I adored you in every one of those / If someone took a picture of us now they’d need to be told.’
Often self-admonishing, sad and scathing, in theory, most of Frightened Rabbits’ songs ought to leave us miserable. Yet, the jangling, unrelenting, crescendo-filled packaging we receive them in thanks to Scott, Grant, Billy, Andy and Simon means the tracks are uplifting. And if you’re a human who has at some point felt an emotion, you can belt out the words for a healthy dose of catharsis, an effect that’s heightened when singing along with the real-life band and hundreds of other fans.