Frightened Rabbit – The Captain’s Rest – 31/03/2009

Neil Cowan

Attending an acoustic show can be a frustrating experience. All too often, bands use the occasion to pander to their self-indulgent tendencies; think string quartets and overly earnest Leonard Cohen covers. Everyone loves a cheeky wee glockenspiel solo, but when the amps are turned down and the electric guitars are packed away, the songs often lack the spark which made them so exciting in the first place. Like being promised haute cuisine but being served a Happy Meal, it can be an unfulfilling and disappointing experience.

Playing a sold out Captain’s Rest to promote Quietly Now, an acoustic version of last year’s magnificent Midnight Organ Fight, Frightened Rabbit avoided the clichés and stuck to what they are good at; delivering warm, painfully honest bundles of melodic goodness. Opener ‘My Backwards Walk’ set the tone for the night, with front man Scott Hutchinson’s engagingly candid lyrics coming to the fore in the sparser onstage set-up.

Converting to an acoustic format perhaps isn’t the most challenging for the band. Cradle of Filth they are not, and the songs were easily stripped back without compromising their original appeal. Gentle guitars and subtle keyboards were the order of the day, and, in truth, the sound wasn’t that dissimilar from a normal, fully electric Frightened Rabbit gig. The band’s appeal lies in their song’s intensity and sincerity, and this was unaffected by the change of arrangement.

Whilst the majority of the set came from Midnight Organ Fight, there was time for ‘Square 9’, from first album Sing the Greys, and a faintly beautiful cover of N-Trance’s Euro-dance number ‘Set You Free’. Local scene mainstay Ross Clark performed mandolin and backing vocal duties on a rollicking version of ‘Old, Old Fashioned’ before returning to accompany Hutchinson in a delicate and evocative encore rendition of ‘Poke’, delivered in the middle of the audience without amplification, and lit only by the glow of a hundred mobile phones.

With a third album in the pipeline, this may have been their last Glasgow show for a while, but Keep Yourself Warm ended the night in a gloriously and improbably uplifting manner, leaving the delighted crowd beaming with joyous smiles and happy hearts.


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