Busy week of concerts for me! I went to see Glasgow band The Fratellis on Tuesday night. I’ve been meaning to feature the Fratellis on a Music Monday for a long time, but haven’t, largely due to Music Monday going on hiatus while I settled in out here. Then I got tickets to their concert and decided to wait.

Jon, Barry, and Mince Fratelli

Of course, I couldn’t help comparing the concert to Jenny Lewis’ from last week, even though there’s not a lot of comparison between Lewis and the Fratellis. The Fratellis are about as hard rock as I actually like (which is not saying a lot), and they were definitely amazing in concert. But I’ve definitely decided that the Wiltern is the largest venue I can take, and it’s not that large, comparatively, and I’m only willing to do that large a show again for my favoritest bands. Especially those from, like, Scotland who aren’t likely to turn up again soon. The Wiltern is set up pretty well – lower floor is all standing, with a special pit area which I didn’t go into. I think you had to have a special something or other to go down there. But I did get a sweet spot right behind the pit, with a nice railing to lean on. I did get a lot less tired this show than at Jenny’s; a combination of the leaning and the fact that the headliner was finished by eleven, rather than starting at midnight.

My major complaint was the overproduction of the show. The lighting designer went crazy, and yeah, there were moments when that was cool (like when the spotlights highlighted Mince Fratelli, the drummer, as he wailed on a fantastic drum solo), but overall it was incredibly distracting. The music is good, guys, you don’t need all that stuff. Also, it all felt so very planned. They only spoke between songs once – although I can understand why; their accents are so thick even I couldn’t tell what they were talking about! The rest of the time it was boom, boom, boom, like rote.

But that’s not quite fair, because it sounds like they were on autopilot, and they weren’t. When they were in the middle of a song, every second was fantastic. Jon (lead singer/guitarist) is incredible; I listened to the CD on the way home, and he was definitely doing some new and much more intricate guitar solos live. They have two CDs out now, and they did a really nice job with the setlist, bringing in the best of both albums (although they didn’t do my favorite song, “Creeping Up the Backstairs”).

I haven’t been to enough concerts to know yet whether the production issues I had are the result of the kind of band the Fratellis are (more straight rock, less indie/folk than Jenny or most of the other bands I’ve seen) or the size of the show. Maybe I’ll figure it out as I expand my concert experience.

In any case, my disenchantment with the production doesn’t diminish my love of the music, so here are some tracks. First, the aforementioned “Creeping Up the Backstairs” from their debut album, Costello Music. Just because they didn’t perform it doesn’t mean I can’t show it some love. :) I had various Fratellis tracks on my iPod for a long time from one of my friends, but it was this one that made me sit up and start really listening. Over and over. And over.

The Fratellis – Creeping Up the Backstairs

And from their recently released sophomore album Here We Stand, a song titled “Mistress Mabel,” which I largely chose because the piano fills make me very happy. Generally I still like Costello Music more than Here We Stand, partially because I’m more familiar with it, but I also feel like it’s got more personality, more quirk. But Here We Stand is more solid in a way, I think. More confident. But less youthfully enthusiastic. They’re both good, is what I’m saying, and if you like these two songs, you’ll like both albums.

Mistress Mabel

2006 – Costello Music 2008 – Here We Stand

Amazon doesn’t have the albums available as MP3 downloads (boo!), so my intention to embed the Amazon Clips widget was sidetracked. Perhaps all for the best, since instead I’ll embed an imeem playlist with all the other songs from the albums. (Why don’t I just use imeem for all the tracks? Good question – first answer is that I only just figured out that imeem plays the full track and not just a 30-second preview. Second answer is that I know I tend to fall in love with bands more when I have a couple of their songs on my iPod and can live with them for a while, so I still think it’s useful to have a sample track or two that you can download as well as stream. As I said, I had Fratellis songs hanging around for months before I lived with them enough to become a fan. What do you think? Should I nix the individual downloadable tracks, like those above? If it makes any difference, mine sound better – don’t know what bitrate imeem uses, but they’re definitely muddier.)