When The Fratellis took the stage at the Paradise Rock Club Sunday night, it had been five years since they last toured the U.S. The Scottish trio had been on a hiatus since 2009, and to the worried fan, it might seem that they were past the point of once again becoming known as the “iPod commercial band from quite a few years ago.” Luckily, The Fratellis’ sold-out show on Sunday proved that they were back on a roll — and with a bunch of great new songs.
The Fratellis started the night with their new, poppy and catchy track “This Old Ghost Town,” from October’s We Need Medicine. The new album stays true to The Fratellis’ garage revival sound, and seems to blend aspects from both of their previous albums: 2006’s flouncing, rock ‘n’ roll Costello Music and 2008’s more refined and indie pop Here We Stand.
“I guess we’ve got to make up for lost time,” said lead singer and guitarist Jon Fratelli, before launching into “Whisky Saga,” a solid new garage tune with surprising country-influenced sounds. They followed it up with their older, playful classic “Vince the Loveable Stoner,” which the sold-out crowd instantly recognized. Jon Fratelli proved to be an energetic and likeable frontman, knowing when to leave his songs’ trademark ‘woo-hoo’s’ and ‘doo-doo-doo’s’ for the audience to belt.
The Fratellis managed to pack an impressive 21 songs into their set, all the while seeming both relaxed and excited to perform. Most of the songs came from We Need Medicine and fan favorite Costello Music. What was a bit courageous though was the band’s decision to play nearly every song from their new album, which was only released last month. Still, the tracks sounded just as good live as they did on the studio album, and The Fratellis were visibly enjoying themselves.
One of the new standout tracks was “She’s Not Gone Yet But She’s Leaving,” a smooth, catchy track dripping with blues and great instrumental work from each individual band member. The fan favorite “Got Ma Nuts From a Hippie” proved to be one of the best and most energetic performances of the night, prompting the Paradise to shout and stomp and Jon Fratelli to generate great anticipation from the crowd between choruses.
The band did not slow down this pace for most of their set, and they even reworked some of their songs for the live performance. While the added energy and guitar-heavy sound was usually great, adding more rock and groove to songs like “We Need Medicine,” it unfortunately made the beautiful “Whistle for the Choir” fall a bit flat when played live.
Yet the only overall disappointing aspect of the concert was the audience. For a sold-out crowd and such an intimate venue (on top of the fact that The Fratellis make extremely upbeat and danceable music) the audience was not as excited and rowdy as one would expect. The shouts of applause were thundering but the audience failed to physically engage with the music for more than half of the show. This could be due to the fact that much of the set was new content — it was evident that much of the audience did not know the new songs well, and there was a large disparity between excitement levels on Fratellis “classics” and their new songs. Still, there was plenty of energy and banter from the band’s end. The audience, confusingly, did not hold up on their end.
When the band came down from their raucous pop-punk-meets-pub-anthem rendition of “Baby Fratelli” and closed with the longer, jazzier “Until She Saves my Soul,” it first seemed that The Fratellis were slowing down. But to the contrary, they came back for a power-charged three-song encore, and the crowd finally loosened up almost completely. As they blazed through their party-starting garage rock hit “Chelsea Dagger,” the audience at the Paradise erupted into a bouncing fervor, and it seemed natural that this would be the band’s last song of the night.
But after playfully berating one audience member for not dancing, The Fratellis surprised Paradise by closing the night with an awesome extended version of “A Heady Tale,” which was brought to life as a rowdy six minutes of fun rock ‘n’ roll.
It had been a long five years, but The Fratellis certainly made it worth the wait.