This week the good folk over at Daytrotter have served up yet another stellar selection of musical treats for your enjoyment. The highlights for me included Scottish lads Frightened Rabbit, who reprise three songs from the outstanding 2008 record The Midnight Organ Fight, an album that still resonates with me just as much as it did upon my first few listens last year.
The Swell Season (Glen Hansard & Marketa Irglova) also popped in to record five tracks, including an unreleased gem called ‘Star Star’ that features a snippet of ‘Oh Holy Night’ that is just gorgeous. Make sure you also check out Nathanial Rateliff & The Wheel who played five unreleased numbers that promise more great things from them in the future – I really liked ‘Laughing’ and ‘Early Spring’.
Friday night saw myself and Elspeth making our way to the Northcote Social Club in Melbourne to see Scotland’s Frightened Rabbit. We knew that they weren’t due out on stage til after 11:00 so we had several debates about the optimal arrival time. It turned out we ended up leaving 10 minutes later than we’d planned and the fates must’ve been smiling upon us because our timing was nothing short of perfection. As we entered the semi-full band room, my suggestion of beer first was quickly shot down by Elspeth’s desire to suss out the merch situation instead. As we coughed up the dough for our maroon t-shirts, who should appear but lead singer Scott who introduced himself to us – like we didn’t know who he was already – and happily signed our shirts. For once, merch trumped beer. Nice one Elspeth.
Elspeth also deserves praise for some seriously gig savvy manuevering. We found ourselves a spot right up the back, but standing on a step which meant we had a great view above the crowd. She also strategically placed a small table right behind me so that I could lean on it (my knee is still dodgy and it’s hard to stand for long periods of time – I’m such an old woman!) and so that nobody would stand right on top of us.
It wasn’t long before FR took to the stage and immediately launched into ‘I Feel Better’, a great way to kick off what we knew would be a memorable show. Most of The Midnight Organ Fight was played during their hour long set with highlights being the gorgeous ‘Good Arms vs Bad Arms’, ‘Old Old Fashioned’, ‘My Backwards Walk’ and my favourite song of 2008 ‘The Modern Leper’, a performance that actually gave me a shiver or two.
Scott did a lot of chatting in between each song (and seriously, Scottish accents have to be the best in the world) and he told us early on that the first thing he learned after his arrival in Australia was the use of the immortal exclamation ‘shit yeah!’, a phrase which he employed with great effect throughout the night. He mentioned that his week in Australia had been the ‘best week of my life’ and that he wouldn’t mind making the move to Melbourne permanently, a statement which was naturally met with enthusiastic applause. At several times he also expressed genuine shock and delight at the reception they were receiving as the show went on. ‘We can play 50 miles from home and not get shit like this!’ During every song you could hear the crowd singing along and there were times where they would be laughing in surprise as their words were shouted back at them.
They finished the set with a beautiful 10 minute performance of ‘The Greys’ which ended with all band members leaving the stage except for Grant who launched into an energetic drum solo that left the crowd yelling for more. After a couple of minutes of begging, Scott returned to the stage alone to step right up to the front of the stage, ignoring the microphone and beginning a stunning rendition of ‘Poke’ accompanied by nothing but his guitar. A few rude idiots up the back were quickly hushed as the crowd joined in.
Poke at my iris, why can’t I cry about this?
Maybe there is something that you know that I don’t
We adopt a brand new language, communicate through pursed lips
And you try not to put on any sexy clothes or graces
Wrapping it up with the very vocal ‘Keep Yourself Warm’, Frightened Rabbit left the stage to tumultuous applause, making us all wish we could rewind the clock and do it all over again. If you haven’t seen them live yet, make sure you wrangle some tickets somehow. Beg, borrow, steal, whatever. You won’t regret it.
Until today I’d only heard a couple of tracks from Frightened Rabbit, and hadn’t really paid too much attention to them. They’re getting some blog love at the moment though due to the recent release of their ep TheMidnight Organ Fight and while doing the blog rounds the other day I grabbed a couple of tracks from Captain Obvious.
One of these was ‘The Modern Leper’, which came up on my Ipod while I was running tonight, and I listened to it without really noticing the lyrics at first, instead letting the Scottish accent of lead singer Scott Hutchison wash over me. It wasn’t until I heard the words “you must be a masochist to love a modern leper on his last leg” that I went back and listened properly.
I think we all know a modern leper, one who has a “disease (they) just can’t shake”, who’s “rattling through life”, and it can be pretty hard to watch them. This track has affected me pretty personally, and it’s highlighted for me how a song can grab your insides so completely. I find myself smiling at the perfect description of the relationship I have with my own modern leper and the sheer brilliance of the lyrics is enough to distract me from the doomed reality of my own experience.
I’m completely bowled over by these guys. You should be too.
A cripple walks amongst you all you tired human beings
He’s got all the things a cripple has not working arms and legs
And vital parts fall from his system and dissolve in Scottish rain
Vitally he doesn’t miss them he’s too fucked up to care
Well is that you in front of me?
Coming back for even more of exactly the same
You must be a masochist to love a modern leper on his last leg
On his last leg
The Pop Cop recently did an interview with Scott Hutchison of Frightened Rabbit in which he discusses each track on their new album The Midnight Organ Fight.
Here’s his take on the second track, ‘I Feel Better’.
I took a trip to New York to surprise a girl and salvage the relationship but it didn’t really work out the way I intended so I came back and tried to sort out my life here and put that to one side, which is the point of the song – to say, ‘I’m done with this’. It’s about the process of recovery – getting worse before you can get better and maybe coming out of it feeling even better than you did before. It’s like shaking off a disease.
Elspeth hasn’t been feeling too good for a while, but she’s got some stuff happening soon that will hopefully help her feel better. So while this track doesn’t relate to her in the way that Scott Hutchison describes, the whole process of recovery quote is spot on.
And if you need to get worse before you can get better, then I guess Elspeth has definitely got that part covered.
Elspeth, here’s to the feeling better.
And here’s hoping your doctor doesn’t look like this.