The Fratellis at the Tivoli
The intimate crowd doesn’t fill much of the theatre, but looking around at the 20-somethings reveling in the soundtrack to their teens, I can see the joy the performance is delivering, and can suddenly appreciate the band for just doing what they’ve always done.
Disheveled British rockers in black tees (a dwindling image) singing songs about sentimentality - nowhere in their performance can you detect the indifference and detached cool that reigns supreme in a Flying Lotus gig (sorry Flying Lotus). It’s like being in a pub of yesteryear, and the band has a humble and charming stage presence. Lead guitarist Jon Fratelli (who looks a little like Edward Scissorhands) punctuates melodies with Scottish-accented banter, and the band returns to the stage for a generous five-song encore, to complete a set that lasts almost two hours.
Their songs narrate stories, painting pictures of charming dinginess and top-hat-wearing eccentricity. But what is it about them that seems so bygone? By the time they play Whistle For The Choir, I realise they're the last of the rock romantics... Along with old Pete Doherty, nobody else is doing it anymore…
It’s not like they’re entirely inflexible though. Material from their latest album appropriates their signature indie rock to incorporate country twangs and an overall sound of “the south”. We Need Medicine is performed with plenty of zest, and takes an unexpected turn with a bluesy deviation from the hoe-down chorus. Certain tracks, in particular Until She Saves My Soul, are quite piano driven, at times sounding like a hastier Cold War Kids. The overall impression is a matured embellishment on their career, going beyond the punky pin-up scope of Costello Music.
There’s a lot of pressure to keep up with the times, adapt to what’s bankable by producing music that experiments with new technology. The Arctic Monkeys have certainly traded in their initial loveable messiness for something that reflects their success. The Kooks have recently done some weird stuff, evidently trying to break away from their renowned acoustic-ness. I think it’s safe to say that the Fratellis, after having taken a long hiatus, have decided not to do this - but before you think catch up with the times guys, remember that rock has always had a charm of its own. The occasional gig that transcends a decade or so is a welcomed refreshment from the sounds of 2014.