Scottish indie-folk act Frightened Rabbit have come a long way since playing free gigs down at Bondi’s Beach Road Hotel back in 2010.
And their growth has been in both fan base and sound. Now, with a cemented line-up and a full, band production, they were hard to fault as they hit the stage for their first of two sold-out Sydney shows (10 March).
On a night that frontman Scott Hutchison and co. faced some stiff competition – The Damned were playing to a sold-out Enmore Theatre, while fellow Scots Teenage Fanclub had packed out Taronga Zoo for the Twilight series – Oxford Art Factory (OAF) was packed come the band’s early 9pm start time.
The early start and finish was to accommodate Swedish artist The Field, who were due on the OAF stage at 11pm; but nothing about this set of almost 20 songs felt rushed.
Not surprisingly, a lot of 2016’s ‘Diary Of A Panic Attack’ featured in the set, kicking off with frequent set opener ‘Get Out’ and tearing through ‘Woke Up Hurting’, ‘Little Drum’, ‘I Wish I Was Sober’, ‘Blood Under The Bridge’ and an encore starting with ‘Death Dream’.
The tunes sounded wholly bigger, more impassioned and intense than on record, such is the magic of Hutchison’s fevered, emotional delivery. As such, the band’s catalogue worked seamlessly as one piece, and even the rather different tunes from 2013’s ‘Pedestrian Verse’, with highlights from that record – ‘Holy’ and ‘The Oil Slick’ – stood out.
Fans hoping to hear a couple of oldies – ‘Swim Until You Can’t See Land’ and ‘My Backwards Walk’ in particular – were to be left disappointed, with early mail suggesting Frightened Rabbit had ditched those from the set for now.
Still, there were some older tunes thrown in – ‘Nothing Like You’ from 2010’s ‘The Winter Of Our Mixed Drinks’ and ‘The Modern Leper’ and ‘Old Old Fashioned’ from 2008’s breakthrough second record ‘The Midnight Organ Fight’.
Hutchison was a man of few words, letting the songs speak for themselves; and through all their tales of heartbreak, hurt, regret and despair, they certainly did that. In fact, when it came time to shuffle out after a three-song encore, it felt like a good time to call it a night.
And, even better, it was only 10.40pm on a Friday night.