THERE was perhaps no better way for Frightened Rabbit to end their special Midnight Organ Fight tenth anniversary tour than with a sold out Saturday night show at Glasgow’s O2 Academy; the very city where the album was written all those years ago.
An album that has long since established its place in the upper echelons of Scottish rich musical history, you only had to enter the O2 Academy for a minute before you realised the momentous importance The Midnight Organ Fight continues to hold in people’s hearts to this day; ten years after its release. Everyone in attendance may have heard these songs time and time again in various live settings over the years, but this gig felt like a particularly special moment for the band and the crowd together; a rare opportunity to revisit this wonderful album in all its entirety. And it resulted in one of the most cathartic live experiences to be witnessed in quite some time.
It was perhaps a curveball then for the band to open with a flurry of later cuts such as ‘Living In Colour’, ‘Holy’ and ‘I Wish I Was Sober’. “We’re just building you up so we can bring you back down to misery later”, Scott told the crowd with his tongue firmly in cheek. Usually staple parts of their set nowadays, on Saturday night they felt like small talk to the deep, gut-wrenching conversation that was to come after it.
Rather inevitably, as soon as the opening chords of ‘The Modern Leper’ rang out, the atmosphere transformed. From here on in, every song was greeted like an old friend; lyrics were bellowed back in unison and arms were thrown in the air as the band delved into the defiant ‘I Feel Better’, the jealousy-fuelled ‘Good Arms vs Bad Arms’ and explicit tales of passionless encounters on ‘The Twist’.
Of course, frontman Scott Hutchison is in a very different place now than when he was back at the time of writing the album. Written when he was at his most emotionally vulnerable, in the aftermath of a prolonged period of heartbreak and the breakup of a tumultuous long-term relationship, The Midnight Organ Fight was a process of emotional evisceration; a raw, unfiltered, brutally honest depiction of heartache and mental frailty. It was his deeply heartfelt lyrics and uncensored approach that captured so many hearts though; and the opportunity to revisit these songs was one that both the band and the crowd seemed to revel in on Saturday night.
However, this wasn’t a sad experience; it was a powerfully cathartic and unifying one. Like a night out with a friend you’ve known for years, it felt like Scott Hutchison was singing the stories of 2,000 people as they sang along with every lyric and rousing indie anthem.
Peppered with chat inbetween, the joyously upbeat ‘Old Old Fashioned’ saw the band orchestrate the crowd into stomping chants before they delved into a succession of big hitters; ‘Head Rolls Off’, ‘Backwards Walk’ and the utterly anthemic ‘Keep Yourself Warm’. “You never disappoint”, Hutchison told the roaring Glasgow audience.
The most spine-tingling moments of the show were reserved for the album’s two closing tender ballads though; ‘Poke’ and ‘Floating In The Forth’. Without the need for any stage frills or production, the former saw Hutchison take to the stage alone under a spotlight, where he held the room to a spellbound silence with the heartbreaking finger-picked lament. Meanwhile, the slow-building closer, one which depicts him at his lowest ebb, had the crowd quietly singing along to some of his most devastating lyrics to date.
After re-emerging to the thunderous sounds of the baying crowd, a victory lap encore ensued during which they performed ‘Square 9’, ‘The Woodpile’ and crowd favourite ‘The Loneliness and The Scream’; the latter of which echoed around the venue long after they left the stage for the final time.
This was a night all about The Midnight Organ Fight though; an album which roots itself in this very city. Every bit as vital and intense as it was ten years ago, it goes without saying that Saturday’s gig will live long in the memory of all those who were in attendance.