Upon arrival at Bristol’s Anson Rooms, Frightened Rabbit had already had the busiest and most successful of their ten years as a group. With the release of ‘Pedestrian Verse’ – their first studio album since signing to Atlantic Records – countless festival appearances including Reading and Glastonbury, and a mammoth international tour spanning across four continents, it’s nothing short of a miracle that Frightened Rabbit still manage to perform with amount of energy and emotion they brought to Bristol.
Frightened Rabbit’s particular brand of Scottish indie/folk-rock has seen no easy rise to success for founding member Scott Hutchison and co., but this year the band finally began to get the recognition they so sorely deserved, and their incredibly dedicated and passionate following has grown and spread the world over. They are still by no means filling stadiums or being mobbed in the streets, but Frightened Rabbit are at what seems to be their desired level of success; not so big as to detract from the intimate and friendly atmosphere surrounding their live shows, but big enough to be able to do what they love to do – making and performing music.
This year also seems to have shown one other key change to Frightened Rabbit – usually melancholy and withdrawn frontman Scott Hutchison announced confidently on stage “I don’t wish I was dead anymore”. A dramatic statement, but one that reflects a change that transformed the live show and his onstage persona to that of a much happier, more jovial man. Despite many songs such as ‘Dead Now’ and ‘First Blood’ still presenting some pretty dark themes, Hutchison performed them in a manner so as to not to depress but to delight and entertain.
The setlist spanned across the entire Frightened Rabbit back catalogue, including ‘Music Now’ from the very early days of their first album as a tribute to fans who have been there from the start. Shortly after this the rest of the band left the stage briefly, leaving Hutchison first to perform a heart-wrenching duet of ‘Fuck This Place’ with lead singer of support band Lanterns On The Lake’s Hazel, and then an acoustic version of ‘Floating On The Forth’. The show climaxed in an unusually heavy twist to the normally relatively subdued ‘Acts Of Man’ which played like a strobe filled, head banging Biffy Clyro show; a trait you wouldn’t expect of Frightened Rabbit but one that was thoroughly well received. Finally a three song encore topped of the show with a special performance of ‘Keep Yourself Warm’ a song which the band have previously said they don’t want to play anymore, but since this is the last tour for what could be a long time the crowd were treated once again.
All in all Frightened Rabbit was a live show that continued to surprise and wow throughout and as a big year for the band draws to a close it is certainly one that won’t be forgotten in a hurry.