They have another half hour or so to prepare though, as Leeds-based quartet Yonderboyare up first. Their wonky indiepop is overflowing with enthusiasm that connects intimately to their tightly-woven, slightly erratic motifs. They are accessible, but they’re smart about it, like an In Rainbows-era Radiohead. There’s no need for them to string a self-indulgent gimmick from their melodic intricacy. Though one or two tracks seem destined for indie dancefloors, the bulk of the set is more introspective. Frontman Zand complements this with a tense, yet tender delivery that manages to avoid maudlin triteness.
Frightened Rabbit then, were given a tough act to follow – and it doesn’t start well. ‘Keep The Youth’ makes for a cluttered opening. Amateurish drumming is pushed way too high in the mix, emphasizing the band’s sloppy attempts to keep time. All of this overshadows the textural richness and castrates the bruising crescendo that makes the album version so emotionally battering. Next track, ‘The Modern Leper’, is only saved by it being the most urgent, most gripping love song this writer has ever heard.
But a few songs in, and Frightened Rabbit are wide awake. Their new-found focus delivers a wall of sound that is cemented with passionate choruses and imaginative folk-tinged hooks. Their songs’ quirks resonate through, so that ‘The Twist’ jerks from a choral progression into a boundless landscape punctuated by fluid rhythms.
Equally, haunting renditions of ‘My Backwards Walk’ and ‘Keep Yourself Warm’ express an honesty rarely articulated in a live show. By contrast, ‘Nothing Like You’ is already sounding like an indie-rock anthem, proving that Frightened Rabbit’s ambition still sends them into untested waters.
The fact is that there are few (if any) bands at the moment that connect as universally to their audience as Frightened Rabbit do. That they do this without cliché or pretension makes their audience one that’s worth being a part of.