Frightened Rabbit  - London Kentish Town Forum – February 13th, 2013

Frightened Rabbit – London Kentish Town Forum – February 13th, 2013

There’s a magic, a chest-filling, rousing pride in watching a band at the tipping point of greatness perform a key show. You secretly know though, in your heart, that all of this could go either way – in fact about half the time that beloved band set to explode do nothing more than rumble a little louder before put-putting to a sad halt. But happily sometimes you just know.

Playing their largest ever headline UK show to date at London’s Forum Frightened Rabbit don’t have it either easy nor all their own way tonight. While the room is fit to burst and a bigger venue for next time implicitly promised, the sound is meagre. The volume of the show sits between low and middling as it so often does at this strange, awkward venue and allows drunk, coked-up industry types to talk over the music with even less effort than usual. Happily the fans outnumber the dickheads ten to one and, knowing that the impact of these bruised, battering ballads of self-loathing and glass-crunching hope isn’t going to be amplified by the house PA simply decide to lend their voices as loudly and enthusiastically as they can to this hour and a half of anthemic glory.

Vocalist Scott Hutchison delivers every line as if it’s his last, eyes narrowed, head thrown back, an audience at his whim, mouthing or belting out his lines for him – sometimes, as on solo acoustic tune ‘Poke’, nearly drowning him out completely.

Early highlight ‘Modern Leper’ sets out the Selkirk lads’ stall pretty comprehensively – a broken-down lyric of broken, wrong love (“Is that you in front of me? / Coming back for even more of exactly the same? / You must be a masochist”) married to a full tilt military drum and ever-rising guitars.

There are the bittersweet Bukowski pop tunes like ‘Old Old Fashioned’, the stoic and empowering rock of ‘Head Rolls Off’ and then there are the slanted, quirk-filled beauties like ‘Oil Slick’ – a song that nods to The Breeders before gaining stature and ending up as a full rockist blowout – but never overshadowing the bleak poetry of lines like “There is love but it’s misery loves you / We’ve still got hope so I think we’ll be fine / These are disastrous times”.

It’s on ‘State Hospital’ that the band really tell their tale – there’s something of the best moments of the crazily underrated Pearl Jam about this empathetic narrative – a Scottish counterpart to ‘Jeremy’ or ‘Daughter’ perhaps – it’s filled with resignation, rage and raw emotion. It also has a planet-eater of a chorus with some of the most instantly evocative, visually striking lyrics you’ll hear this year – go listen to it right now.

‘Swim (Until You Can’t See Land)’ offers a hint of Springsteen – the tune re-imagined to incorporate a supercharged ‘Born To Run’ breakdown and an arena-rock climax that comes across as playful and true rather than forced or vain.

These are among the truly connecting aspects of the band – the lack of ego, the nodding, smiling sympathy, the real emotive consciousness and those fucking hooking, big-fish landing bastard choruses.

A roaring and well-earned encore delivers the declamatory ‘The Woodpile’, old favourite ‘Living In Colour’ and what could, by moniker alone, be the band’s theme tune – ‘The Loneliness and The Scream’, home to the line “oh the loneliness and the scream to fill / A thousand black balloons with air”. While the set climaxes with a wordless singalong that continues long after the band has left the stage (again reminiscent of crowd responses at E Street Band shows over the years) there’s a sense that this is very far from over.

Frightened Rabbit have just released their best album to date in the shape of ‘Pedestrian Verse’, their love of what they do seems to rise and rise and in direct response their expanding fanbase appreciate them more and more. This is the British band you want to have your heart broken to, the sad poetic drunks you want to heal your wounds with, that great, beloved band set to explode – and this time, surely, that beautiful spray of glory and mortar is guaranteed.

God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.