The Fratellis - O2 Institute Birmingham - 8th December 2016
Chances are, if you're 18 or over, you've listened to the album Costello Music. Most probably in full. And you probably know all the words to said album. Well it's now 10 years old, and The Fratellis are taking it on tour.
But first out the gates is Johnny Lloyd. I could tell you all about his previous success with his old band Tribes, but I don't need to. Johnny's solo work is phenomenal and this support slot was a perfect warm up and start to the night. With a fantastic sound, blended from his soulful vocals, blissful guitar work and a great band behind him, the whole set had me entranced. Before tonight I'd never heard or seen any of his solo work, but i'm hooked instantly. We had a chat with him after the show and he's back on tour in April. We'll be there and you should be too.
Now even before Johnny came on stage the crowd was huge in the O2. The show was a sell out and you could barely move before The Fratellis came on stage. But after they stepped in front of the Birmingham audience, the crowd went wild with energy and the venue seemed to explode. Opening the set with a few of their newer songs, 'We Need Medicine' a favourite of mine and 'Impostors (Little by Little)' which is circling my head still, the crowd were jumping and the barriers were shifting at the front of the stage. But nothing prepared me for when Jon Fratelli smirked slightly and bursting into 'Henrietta'.
Costello Music had begun and Birmingham had gone crazy. It felt like the whole town was in this tiny room. But enough about the crowd, lets talk about the music. This album is easily in my top 10, maybe even my top 5, and I know it front to back. But what Jon, Barry and Mince are doing with it on this tour is incredible. Not only are they blasting it out with such energy and love, but they're reworking old songs, adding little bits that weren't their before and frankly showing off their musical and charismatic talent. Every song felt perfect, fluid and right on every level.
As the set carried on, they play the album in a slightly different order, but it doesn't matter. The songs are sung along with line by line and when they reach 'Got Ma Nuts From A Hippy', Jon talks about it being the first song they played together. You can feel the love on stage between them and it's smiles all round. They follow it up with 'Chelsea Dagger', which can barely be heard over the audience and they close the album and their main set with 'Ole Black and Blue Eyes'.
I'll admit, it was sad to see so many people leave at that point. But that didn't stop the band. They came back on to a huge cheer from the crowd and had a great encore with 'Too Much Wine', ' A Heady Tale' and surprisingly a cover of Dion's 'Runaway Sue'. It's weird to think that The Fratellis are 10 years old now, but they haven't lost a single drop of their energy and love for the music. I've been to a huge amount of shows this year and I still have a few more to go. But I'm calling it now. Best Show of 2016. Bravo boys.
Words and Pictures - Jack Kirby