Live Review

Owl John, Oslo, London

6th August 2014

Hutchinson turns up with his acoustic guitar and a (metaphorical) six pack and it’s all smiles.

Musical adoration comes in all shapes and sizes, from the subtle to the stalkerish, and unlike actual romantic adoration, carries with it little self conscious embarrassment. Tonight at Owl John’s first performance in London we witness a rich – and boisterous – love from audience to performer, from crowd-led harmonies, plying the frontman with drinks and relentlessly shouting out obscure requests. In fairness to the increasingly lairy crowd upstairs at the Oslo in Hackney, Scott Hutchinson, better known as the lead singer of Frightened Rabbit, brought it upon himself offering song selection privileges in return for booze. By the end, everyone is pissed.

But it doesn't matter because tonight has a house party vibe, as if Hutchinson were an old school friend returned home a year abroad and playing some tunes to celebrate. Special mention must first go to support the Twilight Sad, who, through an acoustic set, do everything they can do bring the mood down with a painfully beautiful and moving set of miserable Scottish indie trauma. And then Hutchinson turns up with his acoustic guitar and a (metaphorical) six pack and it's all smiles.

Fresh from the release of his self-titled solo album, Hutchinson says he will alternate between a song of his choice and a song of the crowd's choice, with more obscure or awkward songs more likely to get played if he is handed drinks. The Scot uses his song choices to play new solo material, which is met remarkably well considering the album has only been out a week. 'Los Angeles Be Kind', a song about Hutchinson moving to LA, only adds to the feeling this a heartwarming, home-coming gig.

Hutchinson is held to ransom with whisky to play 'The Wrestle', drowned out on 'Old Fashioned' and coaxed back on stage with an encore plea that consisted solely of keeping the “OH OH OH OH OHHHHHH” at the end of 'The Loneliness and the Scream' going for a good five minutes. Among the shouts, slurs and jokes, some of the emotional impact of the Scot's writing is lost, something Hutchinson notes himself after struggling to get a word in for the crowd's shouting: “When we first started playing it was just broken hearted beardy guys, then the lads start coming and you get in the charts...” He's drowned out.

Popularity comes at a price. You can still play upstairs gigs in East London but an acoustic rendition of 'Floating in the Forth' is not going to have the same impact when the singer's playing second fiddle to the crowd. Tonight, however, it doesn't matter. We all just have another beer and belt out the words to another normally miserable song about broken hearts or suicide.

Tags: Frightened Rabbit, Reviews, Live Reviews

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