Ellie Fernyhough reviews The Fratellis' comeback gig at O2 Academy Bristol in support of their new #5 album, In Your Own Sweet Time
You probably haven’t much thought about The Fratellis in the past ten years, since their debut record carried them to noughties indie fame. However, after a 2012 reunion the Glaswegian trio haven’t ground to a halt yet. Their new album In Your Own Sweet Time has hit number five in the UK charts since its release on March 16th; tonight, they visited Bristol on the sixth night of a short tour. Their nostalgia-filled setlist left the audience satisfied — I don’t think anyone could’ve expected anything else from a band indisputably past their peak.
First up were Black Pistol Fire, a bluesy Canadian two-piece, who achieved an impressive feat of getting the audience dancing to the support act. Dirty garage rock-inspired riffs combined with some exceedingly aggressive drumming, and the duo’s clear excitement to be there left a buzz in the crowd. The set was a great advertisement for Black Pistol Fire; ‘Lost Cause’ stands out as a tenacious, rowdy tune, which I’d recommend to any fan of the likes of Gary Clark Jr or The Black Keys.
Earlier in the day, I got the chance to talk to Jon Fratelli about how touring has changed for him in the 12 years that have passed since their first album. His comment that his enjoyment came primarily from playing the music— exploring and partying being of little interest—shone through in this gig.
After an extended build-up to the tune of Offenbach’s 'Infernal Galop' (side note: it is bizarre to see a crowd of twenty-somethings lose it to 19th century classical music), The Fratellis made their entrance with a raucous rendition of ‘Baby Don’t You Lie To Me!’. What followed was a well-balanced setlist demonstrating that whilst the band want to showcase their newer material, they accept that what a lot of the audience came for was the classics - indie anthems like ‘Chelsea Dagger’ and ‘Henrietta’. And when these tunes made their appearance, the response was palpable. This isn’t to say fans didn’t enjoy the newer songs, but let’s be honest, no one was going to be quite as interested in them.
It’s clear Jon and co. love playing music— their sound translated well from recording to live performance— but I, at least, love the live experience when the band engages with a crowd, rather than meekly playing a list of songs then leaving. Perhaps, it being near the end of the tour, the band are exhausted. Perhaps they don’t have the same youthful energy any more. Regardless, this stage presence was what was really lacking for The Fratellis tonight; not a word was spoken to the audience barring “thank you”.
The gig ended with a cover of Dion’s sixties classic ‘Runaround Sue’ which (despite leaving some of the younger fans bemused) was one of the most energetic moments, ending the evening with a bang. The Fratellis have managed to make a career out of a kind of music they’re very good at—their newest effort is enjoyable, but their sound largely unchanged—and the gig did not, by my expectations, disappoint. I did leave finding myself wishing the support act got a few more songs in, but to be fair, the audience got to hear the songs they wanted, and couldn’t ask for anything more.
Featured image: Practise Music PR / Nicky Sims
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