Once in a while you hit a show that you just know is going to stick with you. The Fratellis, is one of those.
First, this was a shorty tour in support of their latest album We Need Medicine For me, and most of the folks I talked to Saturday night in Toronto it was also the first chance they’d had to see the Glaswegian three piece. Ever. The new album coming after a hiatus of around five years that left many fans with a Fratellis’ shaped hole in their world. Thankfully they came back together and did this tour. Unfortunately, unless you are lucky enough to catch tonight's (March 3rd) show in Atlanta...that’s it for the US, at least for now.
Let’s start with the venue. At just over 1,000 capacity, Phoenix Concert Theatre is an amazing venue. Big enough to feel like there’s a great capacity but intimate enough to be, well...intimate. Great sound, great lighting and hands down one of the very best staff I’ve encountered anywhere. Anywhere.. From coat check to bar tenders to security. And let’s face it, if the venue is crap the show will be lacking and this venue was amazing.
Up first was Chicago band Ace Reporter. I’d never heard these guys before but found them quite good. They play an indie pop that leans toward rock with a nice dash of atmospheric thoughtfulness. The songs were mellow yet intense with layered drums, percussion and bass lines that ran along with the heartfelt lyric. They are playing tonight with The Fratellis in Atlanta, then heading up to the New England area for a few shows as well. Check out the debut LP, Yearling stream.
The main event, the reason 1,000 people stood out in the snow for 30 minutes to get into the building was...The Fratellis. And they delivered a one two punch to wake up and warm up the night!
Twenty songs (yes, two zero) plus four encores, including a cover of Dion’s “Run Around Sue” was still not long enough. The Fratellis (named for The Goonies character...seriously how do you not already love these guys before a note is even played?) play a unique form of upbeat, fast moving, hyper active pop. It’s rock and roll with its tongue firmly planted in cheek. Jon, lead singer and guitarist, is all energy and groove. Mince is drummer extraordinaire, who provides occasional vocals too, grinning with his vivid tats and shaved head as he pounds out the fast and furious time that is a Fratellis’ song. And don’t, don’t don’t discount Barry with his unassuming presence and a blindingly smooth bass line! When these three come together, the result is a unique, fun and instantly engaging set.
Their set was a great mix. Favorites like “Vince the Loveable Stoner,” “Baby Fratelli” and “For the Girl” were tons of fun live. Jon didn’t even bother trying to sing the first verse of “For the Girl,” there was no point when the crowd drowned him out! He let go, played and grinned as the fans took over through the first chorus.
But it wasn’t just all the ‘classics’, there were tracks from their latest LP, We Need Medicine, “This Old Ghost Town” in particular, that went over nearly as well. The spankin’ new song “Too Much Wine”, played for only the third time in front of an audience, served as proof that there is even more new music coming from these three.
Live, The Fratellis’ music translates brilliantly. Dancing was not an option, it was a requirement. Whether that meant grabbing a partner for “Whistle for the Choir” (don’t know who the guy I was dancing with was, but thanks!), or forming a line with the group of guys kicking along with “Henrietta,” the crowd and the band were having a great time.
A four song encore ended the night with two songs that sent the crowd insane: “Chelsea Dagger” and “A Heady Tale.” All in all? A near perfect night of fantastic, dancey, upbeat music with no mission except to offer everyone a night of fun, dance and general good vibes.
Wish I could make it to Atlanta tonight.
Full photosets for both bands available here.