THE FRATELLIS - LIVE @ ELECTRIC BALLROOM
Oh my, there are a lot of wankers in this world. I'd say the majority of them are probably in this room, too. I'm at 'Electric Ballroom' Camden, and we're all waiting for 'The Fratellis'. Well, some of us are waiting for the Fratellis, most of us are just waiting for 'Chelsea Dagger'.
Personally though, I've always rated them much higher than that one successful, monster hit. Their debut album - 2006's 'Costello Music' tore along at a relentless pace, and was a triumph for energetic, unpretentious guitar music. Two years later 'Here We Stand' was released and generally slated, but again - I really, really liked it. The critics derided it so much because there was not a particular amount of growth or depth in the album, but it was another energetic, tightly produced record with some truly great hooks. Not every band needs to have a great substance or message behind them - Sometimes we just need a couple of guitars and a catchy chorus to enjoy music, and that's exactly what the Fratellis deliver.
In 2013 their third album 'We Need Medicine' was released. Apparently. I have to admit, up until the other night I thought their fourth album was actually their third, such was the silence surrounding this 2013 release. From the tracks I hear live though - again, it actually sounds pretty good.
Finally, this year saw the release of 'Eyes Wide, Tongue Tied' and the return of 'Costello Music' producer Tony Hoffer. I think it proves an inspired choice, and it's my favourite Fratellis record to date. It's also the main reason I'm seeing them live tonight. 'Baby Don't You Lie To Me!' from their latest release opens the setlist (which can be found at the bottom of the page) before the band follow it up with a lovingly received rendition of 'Henrietta'. As soon as the opening bars to this are played, every pissed, balding man in the building puts his arm around another pissed, balding man in the building (why are they all wearing checked shirts?) and I can barely hear Jon Fratelli himself singing. Don't get me wrong, I can gently nod along to a band I'm enjoying with the very best of them, but I would actually quite like to hear the band I've paid to see. I've never understood it - Why would some pissed chode rather hear himself singing out of tune over the band he's paid to see singing in tune?
Anyway, the set continues, and eight more songs from 'Costello Music' are played, each one received as well as the last. This is clearly the reason most people are here, but it's frustrating nonetheless when there's a mass exodus and a scramble for the bar when 'Imposters (Little By Little)' - my favourite song from their latest album - begins playing. Oh, look! That guy next to me is STILL swearing to everyone above him on the balcony. Oh, look! Everyone else in his group is STILL laughing. If their reaction to this is to be believed, it's the joke that literally never gets old. Are these guys even going to make it to 'Chelsea Dagger'? I don't think they are. One of them looks like an ill Luke Chadwick, and he hasn't nodded in time to the music for about an hour. Oh, look! Someone else has just tried to throw a cup of piss at us!
Sure enough we arrive at 'Chelsea Dagger' and Mr. Chadwick is nowhere to be found, along with a couple of his other mates. For the rest of Camden though, it is undoubtedly the highlight of the night, and undeniably a fun time. The band rightfully presume that most people will leave following the final notes of the song, and the set is closed with a cover of Dion's 'Runaround Sue', a song they obviously only feel they can get away with playing when there's nobody left in the room.
The gig was great, though. It's a shame the new material received such a lukewarm response, but it is unfortunately a very good indicator of where the Fratellis are as a band. Rightly or wrongly, while people are still paying to see them this will mostly be to hear 'Henrietta', 'Flathead' and 'Chelsea Dagger', and the Fratellis will struggle to be seen as anything more than 'that' band for the foreseeable future. They are severely underrated, however, and I look forward to their next album and tour greatly. I'll see you there balding men of Britain.
Baby Don't You Lie to Me!
Seven Nights Seven Days
Imposters (Little by Little)
She's Not Gone Yet But She's Leaving
A Heady Tale
Whistle for the Choir
For the Girl
Me and the Devil
Got Ma Nuts From a Hippy
Everybody Knows You Cried Last Night
We Need Medicine
Until She Saves My Soul
Too Much Wine
Runaround Sue (Dion cover)