Concert Review: Frightened Rabbit | Buzz Blog

Friday, May 14, 2010

Concert Review: Frightened Rabbit

Posted By on May 14, 2010, 9:23 AM

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When a lead singer's shirt is soaked through after just three songs, you know you're seeing something good. And the sold-out Frightened Rabbit show Thursday was very good.---

Frightened Rabbit's three albums offer ample evidence that the Scottish crew knows its way around pop hooks and insistent melodies. But the beauty one encounter's on releases like the breakthrough The Midnight Organ Fight or this year's The Winter of Mixed Drinks does nothing to foreshadow what a muscular, dynamic band Frightened Rabbit is live. 

Singer and primary songwriter Scott Hutchison is the obvious leader. Not only did he have the Urban Lounge audience chanting along to his band's epic anthems, but Hutchison was the most visually arresting member of the band as well, his body contorting in all manner of unnatural poses, involuntary spasms driven by the music.

The band morphed from a three-guitar/bass/drums approach at one point into a ever-changing selection of keyboards and percussion backing the guitar-strumming Hutchison. It was impressive how the band was able to showcase the beauty of its songs—the lush orchestration, the excellent harmony vocals—while still genuinely rocking. It was reminiscent of the pop-rock band they chose to play before taking the stage: Fleetwood Mac.

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"Last time we were in Salt Lake, it was one of the best shows of the whole tour. So let's go!" Hutchison decreed after the opening "Skip The Youth." "Old, Old Fashioned" and "The Loneliness and the Scream" followed, their slow, churning beginnings opening into something sonically far bigger—hence the comparisons to bands like U2 and Coldplay that pop up in relation to Frightened Rabbit.

The highlight of the night was "Swim Until You Can't See Land," a song Hutchison explained was inspired by "a movie starring one of the Olson twins, The Wackness." Whatever the source, the song from Mixed Drinks is one of the best things I've heard this year, an impossibly pretty mid-tempo song rich in vocal harmonies that sounded even better live than in the pristine recorded take.

Among the other highlights: "The Twist," "Backwards Walk" and "Nothing Like You."

Openers Maps & Atlases got the crowd moving with their jittery brand of funk-folk. I'm an advocate of any music that gets people dancing, but their predilection for noodley art-rock was a little Phishy for my taste. There is plenty of instrumental skill in the band, to be sure, but I'll take my indie-rock like the Scotch that fuels Frightened Rabbit's homeland: straightforward, smooth and tasty.

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