I went to go see the Scottish Indie rock band The Fratellis last night at Manchester Academy 2, on Monday 16th November 2015. It’s the second time I’ve caught the band live, a band I’ve been a fan of for almost a decade now. Some people sometimes seem to think of them as a one hit wonder since ‘Chelsea Dagger’ is so disproportionately more famous than any of their other singles (man, ‘Misteress Mable’ isn’t in adverts for beer or cars every year, is it?) but these hard working, consistent and very talented guys are far from one hit wonders, and each and every one of their albums has had a good chance of being my album of the year for that year.
I went to see them with my girlfriend, they’re one of the bands that we both enjoy, and had a lot better time than the last time I saw them because I didn’t have some weird 11 year old girl making fun of me for not looking happy enough this time, this time I looked very happy. We did have hooligans bouncing around drunkenly, almost squishing my girlfriend (it was one of the more violent shows I’ve been to with a non-Metal band) and causing me to buckle down and get the elbows out entering human shield mode (hey, good job I’m tall and into lifting) every time they played something off of their debut album Costello Music that caused the crowd to get overly active. It was quite a workout stopping and reversing the human tide over and over again, but very satisfying in a certain caveman-mind me-tarzan way.
The support band was The Crookes who were a similar sort of band, and very passionate and talented and seemed very good. There were two or three songs that got me thinking maybe I’ll check out their albums. I’d recommend them if you like this sort of music.
When The Fratellis hit the stage it was joyous, very fun indeed. They did a pretty representative set with a good mixture from all albums, not overlooking anything and giving particular focus to their debut which is reaching nostalgia age and their new album which they’re clearly proud of and into and it really shows. It was nice to see songs like ‘A Heady Tale’ and ‘Until She Saves My Soul’ from the middle two albums (my favourite two, personally) balanced against the obvious choices like ‘Henrietta’ and current single ‘Imposters (Little By Little).’
What I love about this band, and why I can listen to them when most indie bands don’t do much for me, is because they are such true musicians and so clearly love what they do and are grateful for any success. Its cool how much they’re doing it for themselves to… improvised guitar solos recalling Hendrix and Gilmour that have nothing to do with the albums just because it felt fun to play right now, changing up massive much loved songs like ‘Everybody Knows You Cried Last Night’ and more recent material like ‘We Need Medicine’ into a country music vein just because it would be fun… and when they play ‘Doginabag’ they played it with a swerve big stoner rock vibe you’d expect from Down or C.O.C, because clearly they’re just so into it. Surprise stand-out moment for me was a track from the new album, called ‘Me And The Devil’ which they just stormed out with this massive power you wouldn’t expect, huuuuuuge drums that sincerely recalled Bonham, with the lighting and the dynamics in volume and the energy in the room it was genuinely one of the best moments I’ve ever witnessed from a live band, and it wasn’t even one of my favourite songs from the new album before this. It was so stupidly good live… I can’t even explain how massive it was. The drummer, Mince Fratellis, hits so hard, so confidently and with such enthusiasm (well, what do you expect from a guy with massive Slayer and Metallica tattoos on each arm) that he really transcends the sort of radio indie thing… the guys a real artist. It’s a shame that the albums don’t convey the sheer umph (if they did though, the ‘normal people’ wouldn’t buy them though) because I’d love to drop some links to demonstrate what I mean… but you know that feeling when you see someone playing at the very edge of their limits and then just throwing in extra fills or cymbals and actually going past their own limits and it just creates a drive and power that is magical and better than precision… the power of hardcore punk without the sloppiness. Oh, its hard to describe… but I was transfixed. The effortlessly cool Jon and Barry are two of the most captivating guys in this genre, and I still barely looked at them all night… a touch of the Garry Powel or Matt Helders effect going on there… all eyes on the dynamo behind the kit! I don’t care what NME magazine might say.
Yes, a very good night, its brilliant when you can come home from seeing hit after hit after hit and still go, “hold on, they didn’t’ even play ‘Creepin Up The Back Stairs’ or ‘Mistress Mable’ or whatever other famous single” and leave completely and utterly satisfied. Deep cuts, new stuff, re-arranged classics, tons of hits, and after ‘Chelsea Dagger’ had finished they didn’t even leave, but stayed to drop a surprise extra Dion cover… because I guess they’re musicians who like music and it just felt fun to them to do so…
What a band. I wish their audience was less of the hooligans and normals, but then I get squashed at Machine Head and Lamb Of God shows too, so I can’t blame it all on them being indie. Anyway, if you don’t know this band check em out (my favourite songs are ‘This Old Ghost Town’ and ‘My Friend John’ so I’d recommend those as your first entry point) and if you do like them, catch them live because they absolutely smash it!