Frightened Rabbit at home in Boston

A review of Frightened Rabbit at the House of Blues on April 2, 2013

, Contributing Writer

It’s a rarity to find an artist that can genuinely and pleasantly surprise the way Frightened Rabbit did last week at the House of Blues Boston. Touring in support of their fourth album, Pedestrian Verse, the five-piece indie folk rockers came prepared with some serious chops. And while they call Scotland home, they handled themselves and the sizeable Boston crowd with the ease of a favorite local act.

One of the really impressive aspects of the show was Frightened Rabbit’s ability to turn ho-hum songs on their record into marvelous live spectacles. This started with their opening performance of “Holy” and carried through to “The Modern Leper” and the other songs throughout their entire set, which largely featured songs from their latest release. The success of the band in translating their songs into powerful live pieces could largely be drawn to their energy and their experience playing to the Boston crowd. Lead vocalist Scott Hutchison dazzled not only with his deep vocals but also with his running dialogue with the audience. Before jumping into their performance of “Old Old Fashioned”, he urged everyone in the audience to find a special somebody in the sea of people at House of Blues and rack up the courage to make a move by the end of the concert.

The talented frontman even handled requests from the crowd like an old pro. Joking that getting yelled at to play one song throughout the entire show must be what the band fun. feels like all the time, Hutchison also managed to make one lucky fan really happy by spontaneously playing their request of “Fuck This Place” immediately after a moving solo acoustic performance of “Poke”. This was quickly followed by a performance of “Good Arms vs. Bad Arms” with just guitarist Andy Monaghan that slowly but impressively built into the full band over the course of the song.

Working the crowd into their songs is also something that came of ease to Frightened Rabbit as the audience was quickly turned into a “human accordion” for the band’s performance of “Swim Until You Can’t See Land”. Before ending their main set with “Acts of Man”, Hutchison teased a quick Boston return, claiming that there is no place the city and declaring his love for the more intimate confines of the Paradise Rock Club and his desire to play there for five days straight. Whether they actually return to Boston or not, they definitely gave the crowd at House of Blues their money’s worth with an extended 4-song encore performance that featured fan favorites like “The Twist” and “The Loneliness and the Scream”.

In the opening slot was Wintersleep, an indie rock group from Nova Scotia, Canada. The band was able to make their mark on the crowd with impressively layered harmonies and driving folky energy. Echoing the Southern twang incorporated in the music of bands like My Morning Jacket, Wintersleep was able to really shine with their slower material like breakout single “Weighty Ghost”. The only qualm that could be found was the smothering of their keys in their faster pieces, but, overall, it was as solid of an act as could be asked for the powerhouse performance that Frightened Rabbit followed with.

Setlist
1.  Holy
2.  The Modern Leper
3.  Old Old Fashioned
4.  Late March, Death March
5.  December’s Traditions
6.  Nothing Like You
7.  Backyard Skulls
8.  Head Rolls Off
9.  The Oil Slick
10. My Backwards Walk
11. State Hospital
12. Poke
13. Fuck This Place
14. Good Arms vs. Bad Arms
15. Swim Until You Can’t See Land
16. Acts of Man
    Encore
17. The Woodpile
18. Living in Colour
19. The Twist
20. The Loneliness and the Scream

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