Frightened Rabbit returned to Newcastle for the first time since 2013, bringing their self-deprecating indie-folk with them to Riverside. It’s the first time they’ve played here, previously touring in lower capacity venues including Newcastle University and The Sage 2, but tickets were sold out well in advance of the show as fans flocked to hear new music from 2016’s album Painting of a Panic Attack. Lead vocalist and guitarist Scott Hutchison noted that it was nice to play somewhere “dirtier” and the venue certainly seemed more suited to a band known for their grittiness and melancholy.
“the whole experience serving as a kind of catharsis for both band and audience”
The set kicked off with ‘Get Out’, the first single from fifth studio album Painting of a Panic Attack. This is the track on Painting most reminiscent of work from previous albums: a punchy and anthemic offering that made the most obvious opener to get the audience in the spirit. It went down well with a roaring crowd, as did the next two older tracks ‘Holy’ and ‘The Modern Leper’. The latter has always been a fan favourite and was particularly well-met with a fierce energy, as is to be expected from the lead single of the band’s most popular album The Midnight Organ Fight. They then returned to their most recent output with ‘I wish I was Sober’ and ‘Break’. These tracks speak of dark times, their brutal honesty and emotion even more raw when played live. Hutchison sings of battling alcoholism and hurting the people he loves and the crowd only sing back at him more fervently, the whole experience serving as a kind of catharsis for both band and audience. In parts of the set his voice seemed to get lost amidst the guitars, but the crowd tried their best to fill in the gaps.
The setlist on this tour has varied between shows but the range of music played across all of their albums has remained consistent. Some fans made attempts to request certain tracks but Hutchison resisted their efforts. When performing ‘Be Less Rude’ he introduced the track by saying “This is a track from our first album, which wasn’t The Midnight Organ Fight.’ It is undoubtedly true that it was Frightened Rabbit’s second album that established their reputation, with their 2007 debut Sing the Greys not getting much of a look in these days. ‘Be Less Rude’ was the only track from this album included in the set, and it received a less passionate response than others.
The highlight of the show had to be final song, ‘The Loneliness and the Scream’. The atmosphere in the venue reached its peak as the tempo increased and everyone joined in chanting along with those final bars. The crowd went on after the band had left the stage, their favourite Scottish indie rockers having left them wanting more.