Live Review: Frightened Rabbit - The Ritz, Manchester 15/03/2018

When I discovered I was attending the full live showing of The Midnight Organ Fight album (or The Saddest Album of All Time), I expected my inner darkest feelings to be dragged out of me in the most violent way possible. I expected Scott Hutchinson to stare directly into my soul and sing those songs that were so obviously written purely for me in such a way that would extract every ounce of H20 from my poor abused eyelids. I had to ask the lovely lady I asked to accompany me to this show to please not think any less of me as a person if I just broke down from emotional exhaustion right in front of her. I did not expect Frightened Rabbit to shower me with the most purest expression of joy, relief and sheer happiness I've ever had the pleasure to experience.

Starting with some "other songs", Frightened Rabbit were determined from minute wrong that this was going to be a celebration. Even with the knowing "get ready, this is gonna get fucking sad" announcement at the start, Hutchinson knew that every expectation was going to be quickly eradicated. Potential Cry Song one was the album opener, The Modern Leper single-handedly enraptured the crowd into a mass singalong that failed to let up for the rest of the album's duration. The happier moments of the album were almost delivered with the knowing humour of what is to come. On I Feel Better's final refrain ("This is the last song I'll write about you"), Hutchinson laughs "well that was a fucking lie!" before crashing into big PCS Good Arms vs Bad Arms. Several huge moments transpired; the mass pogoing to the fantastic "Old Old Fashioned", the huge singalong to "Keep Yourself Warm" and the sheer silence during the crowning moment, Scott's solo airing of "Poke"- the whole evening proved to be an incredibly joyous celebration of sadness.

An encore consisted of two highlights from Pedestrian Verse (The Oil Slick and The Woodpile), the set ended with the practically requested "The Loneliness and The Scream"- I have to say that my lady friend was disappointed that I didn't even cry once (kind of, Good Arms vs Bad Arms is a tough one). I simply couldn't, wiping the huge grin off my face was one hell of an ordeal. The comfort of Hutchinson and Co exorcising the darkest of depression they suffered during the writing of the album was a much needed therapy session for everyone involved. In the subsequent difficulty of performing these unbelievably open and personal songs, the sheer reassurance of the band being happy to transfer these feelings is something that benefited everyone in the crowd. A purely beautiful moment of musical performance.

Words by James Kitchen