Live: The Fratellis
By Zakk Brown
Academy 2 – 16/11/2015
It’s easy to overlook anything by The Fratellis that isn’t off Costello Music, although admittedly there isn’t much else to look at by them. That is until listening to their latest album Eyes Wide, Tongue Tied. While it won’t be making anyone’s album of the year list, it has some decent enough tracks to at least refresh their career. The band suit their transition into more mature, subtle, Dad-rock style Americana fairly well (even their album logo has changed to an adult font from the garish bubble-writing of days gone by).
Costello Music is evidently still adored by anyone who has ever experienced adolescence in the 2000’s; with massive choruses of ‘Flathead’, ‘Baby Fratelli’, ‘Whistle For the Choir’ and of course ‘Chelsea Dagger’ being obvious fan favourites. Most of the audience knew that they were only there to jump up and down while chanting to ‘Chelsea Dagger’. The band knew this as well, attempting to leave the stage early and make the audience anticipate it in the encore, but were called back out before a minute was up because due to the aggressive chanting of the crowd.
However, while the Glaswegians do still enjoy playing their older indie bangers, the character of the band no longer seems to match the character of that material. Instead, they now seem better-suited to their newer sound, having a more adult presence on the stage. ‘Adult’ is probably the best way to describe The Fratellis in their current state, now having a pianist on tour with them who has essentially saved the band. The addition of a piano gives tracks off the new album this grown-up edge, making album opener ‘Me and The Devil’ sound more grandiose and even epic—a word I never thought I’d use to describe The Fratellis. Unfortunately, the bass didn’t feel like it was turned up loud enough to give some songs a real force. It was sorely lacking on the Stevie Wonder-esque ‘Dogtown’, where it was needed to underpin the funk rhythm, but just wasn’t there.
Although the band is far from greatness, their early work has enough energy to make even the most stoic of musical snobs want to jump up and down and shout the various ‘do’s’ ‘la’s’ and ‘ba’s’ in ‘Chelsea Dagger’ and ‘Flathead’. Their newer work also has enough character to drag them out of their slump of stagnant second and third album work, suggesting that there might still be enough life in the band for them to continue as an Americana-style group.