I fondly recall the last time I got to see The Fratellis, it was the last time I went to Glastonbury Festival in 2007, a weekend of music, culture, copious amounts of alcohol and of course, mud and rain. They performed on the Pyramid Stage and certainly lifted a few spirits on that wet Saturday afternoon when they took to the stage. Here they are, 8 years later having racked up 4 studio albums and a whole raft of fans throughout their journey, would they have the same effect on the masses that filled Bristol’s O2 Academy on a cool November evening? well read on to find out….
After a few minutes spent looking for a car park we entered the venue just as the support act were kicking into their opening track. The Crookes are a 4 piece indie rock band from Sheffield and after watching their set, it was no surprise to learn that they’re 3 albums into their career.
They oozed confidence on stage, not in a cocky way, they just looked like they knew what they were doing and delivered each and every track with real panache. Musically, they reminded me of an English version of Scottish indie darlings Teenage Fanclub alongside others, their songs sang of love, heartbreak, more love and a little bit more heartbreak.
‘I Wanna Waste My Time on You’ was a clear highlight from their set with its jangly indie guitars and tight bass, the band moving well across the stage but always ended up in the right spot at the right time to deliver vocals or some killer guitar work. I would say that this is a band to keep an eye on but seeing as they’re an established act, I would recommend that you go out and listen to everything they have to offer.
After a short break, the stage was re-arranged and new instruments were ferried in, down went the lights, up went a roar and we were treated to Offenbach’s classic ’The Can Can’ whilst we waited on the arrival of the band to the stage. After the music ended, they strode out, Jon wearing a splendid looking panama hat, Barry in a flat cap and Mince in his trademark magic colour changing T-Shirt which was to go from a light grey to black throughout the set.
They picked up their guitars (and drumsticks) and launched into ‘Baby Don’t You Lie To Me’ lifted from their recent long player, this had an immediate effect on the capacity crowd and soon, the entire downstairs section of the venue were rocking along in unison. Towards the end of the song, Jon paused after singing the line ‘If you’d only shut your mouth’, leaving the crowd in limbo for a good few seconds before coming back in to finish the track.
Their set was peppered with a good selection of classics including ’Henrietta’, ‘Whistle for the Choir’ and ‘Baby Fratelli’, as well as newer material from their latest album ’Eyes Wide, Tongue Tied’ such as ‘Thief’, Imposters (Little by Little) and the album opener ‘Me and the Devil’. The new album had me hooked from the off and is still a firm favourite in my car CD player for my daily commute, clearly a sign that the band still have what it takes to pen a cracking tune whilst staying true to their roots that formed way back in 2005 after Jon met Barry in a Glasgow bar and decided to get a band together. Jon recalled this tale to the room prior to playing the first ever track that they played together ‘Hippy’.
‘We Need Medicine’, lifted from their 3rd studio album sounded great with it’s country-esque vibe, the crowd had started to warm up and there was a healthy looking mosh pit happening downstairs, I would have been down there, mixing things up a bit but seeing as I had a job to do, I opted to stand on the balcony and let the kids enjoy themselves (all lies, it’s my hips….!)
Act one came to a close a good hour and a half after they started, leaving the stage to huge applause, it was evident that they would be back to see Bristol off in style. A few minutes later, they re-appeared and thanked the audience for coming out to see them on a Sunday night prior to bursting into ’She’s Not Gone Yet But She’s leaving’, the crowd definitely up for much more. The energy levels failed to dip when they kicked into ’Too Much Wine’ which is an amazing 4/4 rock track that is guaranteed to get you up and moving. It was very close to the end of the show and we hadn’t heard ‘Chelsea Dagger’ yet, were they not planning on playing it? Just then, the drums blasted out that beat and the room was alive once again, it was seriously going off downstairs, all harmless fun but great to see everyone having a good dance and bouncing around the place like pogo sticks!
The band let the audience cool down for a few seconds prior to playing the final song of the night, a rocked up beef laden version of ‘Runaround Sue’, originally performed by Dion (of Dion and the Belmonts) after they split in 1961. It was a fantastic way of ending the show and sent everyone off into the night on a real high.
So, going back to the question at the start of the piece, did they have what it took to keep the fans happy, hell yeah and then some!
Baby Don't You Lie To Me
A Heady Tale
For The Girl
Me & The Devil
We Need Medicine
Until She Saves My Soul
She's Not Gone Yet
Too Much Wine
Words by Steve Muscutt
Photography by Julian Baird
Their latest album ‘Eyes Wide, Tongue Tied’ is available to buy now from all good record shops (if there are any left in the country) or online via the usual retailers.