Speaking recently to lead singer Scott Hutchinson of Frightened Rabbit he admitted they have made no secret of their ambition to be commercially successful. “I’m not going to deny that we’ve moved to a larger label, and things have stepped up a gear, which is really satisfying”. With their recent triumph of their new album ‘Pedestrian Verse’ going into the charts at number nine they are accomplishing their goals. The band are making themselves heard in 2013, and though plugging away for years and collecting a lot of fans along the way, it seems that they are keen to be a household name. Even this show had to have a venue change, because of their popularity, which resulted in a move to a bigger space to accommodate all the extra ticket sales.
Tonight the performances in Leeds Met student union are lined with chanting from groups in the crowd of “here we go, here we go here we fucking go” whilst waving Scottish flags.
Some musicians shun genres, and first support act Three Blind Wolves may be another act disinterested in being labelled. At the start of the set they could be described as folk, other songs sounded more country and towards the end of the performance there was a descent into heavier rock. Moments of stripped back minimalism showed off their strong harmonies and grabbed audience attention.
Wintersleep followed and lead singer Paul Murphy’s voice conjured the image of crooner David Gray. The Canadian group’s best performance was Weighty Ghost, the song beckoned you to tap your foot and with a catchy chorus it was always going to be the most memorable.
Frightened Rabbit are the kind of band who more often than not will be described as anthemic. Scott’s gentle Scottish accent, the band’s humble demeanour, thoughtful lyrics are always going to equal admiration from the audience. Once you see you them live you see why. His vocals were soft but barbed when they need to be, each song was displayed on his face, when he sings he relives his tale. The audience were spellbound and the Scottish fans were waved their flags with more enthusiasm.
The room was full, a crammed row of people watched from the large balcony and the namesake Frightened Rabbit, from Scott’s Mum and Dad about to his shyness, was really being put to the test. The band didn’t need to shout about their arrival, they spent time nodding and smiling each other and Scott introduced songs and occasionally paused for audience participation.
‘Swim Until You Can’t See Land’, a song reminiscent of the Maccabees, was on the lips of the majority of the crowd, and if you didn’t know it at the beginning the repetition of the eager chorus meant you were singing along by the end.
The encore included a performance of Woodpile, and it was what the newer fans were waiting for. The opening of the song and realisation of what was about to happen caused excited applause and screaming from the younger fans. The song bought a wave of silence over the crowd until the chorus. The final song ‘Living In Colour’ was the most visually entertaining, another catchy tune with an energetic light show reflected the lyrics.
The band breathed new life into Celtic rock and the gig was an indication of how popular they had become and how far away from handing out biscuits with demos they were. The only regret is that they had to move it to the Met University, an intimate show at The Brudnell would have been a little more special, but maybe a little more squashed.