The Fratellis celebrate their 10 year Anniversary of the ‘Costello Music’ album by playing all the hits and more at Leeds O2 Academy with Ex Tribes Johnny Lloyd joining in as support.
By John Hayhurst
Photos by John Hayhurst – snapagig.com
A trip to Leeds on a school night to see another one of these ‘play the album in its entirety’ tours that seem so popular right now. Great if the album is worth celebrating, and it has been 10 years since ‘Costello Music’ graced the CD shelves of this reviewer’s home, so definitely worth a pint or two and a sing song with your mates.
Released in the same year as The Arctic Monkeys debut, these Scottish lads conjured up a record of stomping anthems equally sung in the football terraces and clubs all over the UK, however, unlike said ‘Monkeys, this turned out to be the high point of their careers so far – sadly none of their following records really lived up to that first opus.
First we have as support Johnny Lloyd, who you may know from a band called Tribes or possibly that he’s Billie Piper’s new beau. Either way, him and his band are playing a decent set of around 8 uptempo songs each night on this tour.
Johnny is an enigmatic frontman with a very young Keith Richards look about him – that’s where the comparison ends though as the sound is very much in the indie pop genre, more akin to former fellow Camden based band Razorlight than the Jagger/Richards combo.
Playing tracks from his Dreamland EP Johnny Lloyd is an ideal accompaniment for The Fratellis audience, great uplifting tunes and Dreamland itself is about taking a chance and stepping out into the unknown, here’s hoping he is now on the right track himself going solo.
So to The Fratellis, and if you were expecting them to pile straight in to ‘Henrietta’ then you would be disappointed, because first they needed to show the audience a brief glimpse of other newer tracks, and whilst that served as a nice warm up to the big tunes, it felt a little disappointing if you were hoping for a big bang approach. ‘Baby don’t you lie to me’, ‘We need medicine’ are nice tunes but by the time the 5th newer track ‘Thief’ came around, there were a few casual fans twitching thinking they have been conned.
That nostalgic feeling was fully restored though as Jon Fratelli pulled out the familiar choppy riff and ‘Henrietta’ burst from the stage sending quarter pints of beer flying and the front 10 rows bouncing. Such a contrast to what had gone before, it felt like a different band and as the bangers kept coming with ‘Flathead’ and ‘Cuntry Boys & City Girls’ it was like 10 years had been washed away. So surely they are following Costello in track order and ‘Whistle for the Choir’ is next – Nope! They are going to deviate a little, so that the big hits are strategically spaced apart.
That doesn’t matter to be honest because the sight of a room full of mostly twenty to thirtysomethings swaying and singing every word like they were back at Leeds Festival in their youth is a joy to watch. This is what it’s all about, slightly merry and singing “With a doginabag sleeping next to your ridiculous mind” and other bizarre lyrics we barely understand. Until some idiot decides to let off sparklers and a flare, then proceeding to throw it at Barry, who initially I thought would stop everything, but they are made of tougher stuff these Fratellis, and the band played on while we all coughed in rhyme with the copious smoke swirling around the room.
They stick to the same musical arrangements for the songs which is a relief, nothing worse than a band deciding to mix it up on a nostalgia album tour, no one really wants to hear Simple Minds busting out an acoustic guitar for instance, but we do get some country and western noodling on ‘For The Girl’, thankfully it is short lived.
It is building gradually to that opening drumbeat of ‘Chelsea Dagger’, which is the one song that probably everyone in the UK would recognise, sung in holiday bars by the football hooligans and in cheesy discos on freshers week. The band had openly stopped playing it at some of their shows, but can’t do that on this tour, and a thousand mobile phones go up in the air (along with any remaining plastic glasses) for the indie hoedown dance of the last decade.
The only remaining song is ‘Ole Black and Blue Eyes’ the album closer and that finishes the set, with the band re-emerging for ‘A Heady Tale’ from the Here We Stand album. This is a great night out to relive a quite superb debut album and has even made me dig the old CD out and put it in the car to play.
The Fratellis have enough of a set list and the professional competence to keep audiences coming to see them play in concert halls and festivals for the next decade, it all depends on whether they can stand playing mostly just those hits for the next 10 years.
Johnny Lloyd, The Fratellis played at Leeds O2 Academy on Monday 12 December 2016