LIVE REVIEW: The Fratellis, O2 Academy Bournemouth (Sunday, 4 December 2016)

The Fratellis, Bournemouth, Josh Will Eden

The Fratellis took their Costello Music 10th Anniversary Tour to the O2 Academy in Bournemouth on Sunday night (December 4), to celebrate a decade since the release of their frenetic, raucous debut album. I headed down to see if, ten years on, the album’s appeal is still just as visible today.

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Released in at the height of the mid-2000s indie-rock explosion in September 2006, Costello Music is the debut album by Glasgow-based group The Fratellis, which became an instant hit among fans for its punchy, boisterous nature and large number of immediate youth anthems, mixing the funhouse rhythms of The Libertines with the boyish sensibilities of Supergrass among others (the album reached the no. 2 spot on the UK Album Chart, held off the top only by Justin Timberlake). The band has released three more full-length LPs since then, including last year’s Eyes Wide, Tongue Tied, but clearly remain in touch with their fans’ continued love for Costello Music, embarking on the Costello Music 10th Anniversary Tour last month, dedicated to playing the entire album, in full (with more recent numbers) at every show.

Tonight’s support act, Johnny Lloyd, formerly of indie rock bands Operahouse and Tribes, supported Tom Odell on his arena tour earlier this year, and takes to the stage around 8pm to play an 8-song set backed by a three-piece band. The front-of-house mix does justice to the band’s tight, well-rehearsed sound, and the crowd seems (unusually, for a support act) engaged with every song, including many taken off Lloyd’s latest EP, Dreamland. Lead single “Pilgrims” and new song “Traffic” mix melancholic guitar pop with rhythms that get many in the audience swaying, and Lloyd dedicates “Beautiful People” to two specific individuals in the crowd, also dedicating a moment to getting the crowd’s applause for his guitar tech.

By the time The Fratellis arrive onstage a little after 9, the place is packed out. A light show orchestrated to Jacques Offenbach’s “Infernal Gallop” (better known as the “Can-Can”) is one of the most unorthodox but effective ways of getting a crowd whipped up that I’ve ever seen, and set opener “Henrietta” heightens the mood. Minimal rigmarole and stage-talk sets the precedent for an unstoppable set, and a succession of up-tempo tunes from Costello Music including “Flathead”, “Vince the Lovable Stoner” and “For The Girl” really get the audience going – by the time fan-favourites “Chelsea Dagger” and “Creepin’ Up The Backstairs” roll around, everybody seems to be bouncing in unison, opening mosh pits, and crowd-surfing. A number of pints form messy arcs as they’re tossed from one end of the auditorium to the other.

Having thrashed through every song from Costello Music, the band – lead singer Jon Fratelli, drummer Mince Fratelli, bassist Barry Fratelli and touring keyboardist Will Foster – fill out the rest of the set with select songs from more recent records, infused with just as many shuffling, stomping rhythms and twangy country influences. Main-set closer “We Need Medicine”, title song from their third studio album, is treated with little fanfare by the band but is met with nothing but gratitude from the crowd, who clamour for more throughout the intermission. Before launching into the last song of the encore “Runaround Sue”, the 1961 doo-wop number by Dion (which engages the audience in a way many bands struggle to achieve even with their own tunes), Jon Fratelli thanks the crowd at large for “keeping us in a job” over the past ten years.

“[By] the time fan-favourites “Chelsea Dagger” and “Creepin’ Up The Backstairs” roll around, everybody seems to be bouncing in unison, opening mosh pits, and crowd-surfing”

It’s clear, judging from the rapturous applause from all corners of the O2, that The Fratellis’ repertoire has lost none of what made them so enjoyable ten years ago. The singalong chants, bounce-friendly tempos, and uncomplicated appeal of each song in tonight’s set seems to leave nobody out, and even the low-key, softer songs like “Whistle For The Choir” set an inclusive tone, imbuing the set with a welcoming, party-like atmosphere. Ten years on, The Fratellis (ironically, they’re not related) feel like family.

Josh Will Eden

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